Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Myanmar expanding restrictions due to COVID-19 as of April 23. Factories nationwide closed for inspection. Travel restrictions in effect.

This alert affects Myanmar

This alert began 23 Apr 2020 08:08 GMT and is scheduled to expire 14 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry bans, quarantine measures, curfews, transport and business disruptions; possible protests

Summary
Officials continue to expand restrictions within Myanmar to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Central authorities have ordered factories nationwide to close for checks and will allow facilities to reopen only after passing inspection. The national government has also banned gatherings of more than five people, with exemptions for public servants and factory workers commuting to and from their workplaces and medical emergencies, among others.

Internal movement controls remain in place across much of Myanmar but vary by location. Local officials in Naypyidaw have set up checkpoints and will quarantine travelers showing COVID-19 symptoms for 21 days. Residents in Yangon's Bahan, Hlaingthaya, Insein, Mayangon, Pabedan, Shwepyitha, and South Okkalapa townships must stay at home, with limited exemptions for workers; only one person from each household can leave to purchase essential supplies. Officials are also allowing vehicles only to transport employees to and from workplaces. A 2200-0400 nightly curfew is in effect for all townships of Yangon and Naypyidaw, as well as in Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, and Shan states and Ayeyarrwady, Bago, and Sagaing regions. Mandalay Region has instituted a 2100-0400 curfew and will require arrivals from areas with known COVID-19 cases to undergo a 21-day quarantine at designated facilities. Authorities have closed nonessential businesses in most areas for varying time frames, though essential services such as food producers, markets, medical providers, pharmacies, banks, and utilities remain open.

Myanmar National Airlines (UB) flights remain suspended through April 30. Yangon's regional government is allowing trucks to operate 0700-2000 to accommodate curfew hours. Further transport disruptions are possible in the coming weeks.

Locals in some parts of Myanmar have opposed movement controls and may stage demonstrations in the coming weeks.

Travel Restrictions

All international flights, except for relief or cargo flights, remain suspended through at least April 30. The government has restricted border movements, allowing only the transport of goods. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also suspended visa issuance and visa-free travel to the country through April 30. Diplomats, UN officials, and aircraft and ship crew are exempt from visa restrictions. Returning Myanmar citizens and incoming foreigners, with some exceptions, will need to undergo a 21-day quarantine at government facilities and a subsequent one-week self-isolation. Authorities are allowing diplomats and resident UN officials to self-quarantine at their residence. Officials could expand their response in the coming weeks, particularly if COVID-19 activity increases in-country.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Postpone travel if affected by travel restrictions. Confirm flight status before checking out of accommodation and departing for the airport. Follow all official immigration and health screening instructions, particularly if traveling from affected locations. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings at all ports of entry. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Avoid any demonstration as a precaution.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int