Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Myanmar extends COVID-related restrictions, including international flight ban, through at least May 15.

This alert affects Myanmar

This alert began 24 Apr 2020 17:33 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions; possible protests

Summary
Officials in Myanmar have extended nationwide movement, gathering, and business restrictions through at least May 15 as part of the country's effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). All international flights, except for relief and cargo flights, will remain suspended. Gatherings of more than five people are banned, with exemptions for public servants, factory workers, and some others. Factories are only allowed to operate after undergoing health and social distancing inspections.

Internal movement controls remain in place across much of Myanmar but vary by location. Local officials in Naypyidaw have set up checkpoints and 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 may be outside the home at a time to purchase essential supplies. Authorities are also restricting vehicles to only transporting employees to and from workplaces. A 2200-0400 nightly curfew remains in effect for all townships in 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 requires persons arriving 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.

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

Travel Restrictions

In addition to the international flight ban, the government has restricted cross-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. Diplomats, UN officials, and aircraft and ship crew members are exempt from visa restrictions. Arriving travelers, with some exceptions, must undergo a 21-day quarantine at a designated government facility followed by one week of self-isolation. Officials could expand their response in the coming weeks, particularly if COVID-19 activity increases in Myanmar.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government are similar to 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