Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Myanmar extends international flight ban through Oct. 31 due to COVID-19 activity. Tighter controls ongoing in Rakhine State and Yangon.

Alert Begins 25 Sep 2020 04:27 AM UTC
Alert Expires 31 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, quarantine measures; possible protests

Summary
Myanmar has extended the international flight ban through Oct. 31 amid increased local coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Relief and cargo flights can continue operating. Authorities may also allow special flights to transport citizens to and from Myanmar on a case-by-case basis.

Domestic airlines have canceled flights nationwide through at least Sept. 30. Gatherings are limited to 30 people nationwide, except for public servants, government-related meetings, food establishments, and essential businesses. Schools remain suspended nationwide until further notice. Officials continue to advise people to wear facemasks, practice personal hygiene, and maintain a physical distance of 2 meters (6.5 feet) in public.

The government is imposing tighter restrictions in Yangon Region and Rakhine State, where most new COVID-19 cases have emerged. Authorities have placed Yangon Region, except Cocokyun Township, under stay-home orders. People can only leave home for work in allowed industries or essential and emergency purposes. Business and transport restrictions are also in place. Officials have also banned travel from Yangon Region except for essential reasons. Additionally, residents throughout Rakhine State must stay at home, with exceptions for work, essential, and emergency purposes. A 2100-0400 curfew remains in place, with limited exemptions.

Some local governments are increasing checks and restrictions on travelers from areas with high local COVID-19 activity, such as Rakhine State. Ayeyarwady Region officials require arrivals from Rakhine State to quarantine for 14 days at government-designated facilities, test negative for COVID-19 before release, and then self-isolate for seven days. Travelers from high-risk areas must quarantine at government-designated sites for 21 days and then self-isolate for seven days upon arrival in Mandalay Region. Naypyidaw requires arrivals to quarantine and test for COVID-19 at government-designated sites, though the length of isolation varies. People arriving from areas with no known COVID-19 activity must quarantine for at least two days, while arrivals from localities with COVID-19 cases must isolate at least seven days. Travelers must provide evidence of their recent travel history and test negative for COVID-19 before departure from facilities. The central and local governments could expand quarantine requirements to other areas with COVID-19 outbreaks at short notice.

Locals in parts of Myanmar have opposed the government's COVID-19 protocols, and protests against restrictions remain possible.

Travel Restrictions
Visa-on-arrival and e-visa services remain suspended. Exemptions include resident diplomats and UN officials. Returning Myanmar nationals must undergo a 21-day quarantine at government-designated sites, followed by one week of self-isolation. Resident diplomats and UN officials may undergo quarantine at their residence for two weeks. Additionally, authorities also permit business trips in important sectors, such as oil, gas, and power, from mainland China and Japan in a so-called fast lane arrangement with protocols in place. Safeguards include requiring the travelers to present a medical document stating they do not have COVID-19 obtained within 36 hours of boarding flights, undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival in Myanmar, and isolate at designated facilities. The land border remains closed, though goods transport can continue.

Background and Analysis
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
Defer travel if affected by travel restrictions. 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.


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