Authorities continue to enforce restrictions across Rakhine State as of Oct. 14 to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the region. A nightly 2100-0400 curfew remains in effect statewide, with exceptions for emergency situations, among others. Outside of curfew hours, residents throughout the state must remain at home, with exemptions for people with emergency, essential, and work purposes. Authorities have issued documents for locals to present to officials when in public to obtain supplies or seek medical care. Only one person from each household can leave home to get supplies, while only two people per household can visit medical facilities. Officials are reportedly intensifying document checks in crowded areas across Rakhine State. The government has banned locals from traveling outside their towns; exemptions are possible with local administration officials' consent. Schools remain shut until further notice. Wearing masks is compulsory when in public. Officials have also suspended events in internally displaced people (IDP) camps and banned non-government organization (NGO) members from meeting IDP; authorities have instructed NGOs to deliver goods to camp administration offices instead. The government's level of enforcement of the rules is unclear.
Additionally, local governments in parts of the state, especially those where known COVID-19 cases reside, are implementing stricter curbs. Officials in Kyaukpyu District ordered individuals coming from Sittwe to undergo health checks and self-isolate at their residence. Those who have had contact with known cases will need to test for COVID-19 and quarantine at government-designated facilities; the duration of the mandated isolation is unclear. Other local governments could also enact additional curbs on top of statewide protocols.
In other parts of Myanmar, some local authorities are increasing checks and restrictions on travelers from Rakhine State and other locations with high COVID-19 activity. In Ayeyarwady Region, arrivals from Rakhine State must quarantine for 14 days at government-designated facilities and test for COVID-19; those who test negative will still have to isolate at their residence for seven days. Additionally, Ayeyarwady Region's officials may deny entry to vehicles coming from Rakhine State without the necessary documents; the required certificates reportedly include a travel document and medical notes stating the passengers do not carry COVID-19. Local governments may adjust the protocols at short notice.
Follow all official instructions. Remain polite and cooperative if stopped by security personnel for checks. Avoid crowded areas. Stock up on essential supplies as a precaution. Confirm all travel reservations; consider deferring nonessential travel to and from Rakhine State, especially Sittwe. Make allowances for likely domestic travel restrictions if operating in the region. Abide by national and local health and safety measures. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.
Emphasize 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 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.