Tour bookings cancelled in Myanmar as virus spreads

Tourists are cancelling bookings with Myanmar tour companies as cases of coronavirus spread around the world, tour operators said Sunday.

U Myo Yee, of the Union of Myanmar Travel Association in Mandalay, said cancellations have come from around the world, not just China, where the outbreak of the disease started earlier this month.

“I think the cancellation rate is between 10 percent and 20pc,” he said, adding that they expect a decrease in tourist arrivals in the next few weeks as some Chinese airlines have cancelled flights to the country.

A public relations official at Yangon International Airport said Sunday that China Eastern Airlines had cancelled all flights between Myanmar and Wuhan, which is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak that had killed 56 people in China as of Sunday.

Flights between Wuhan and Yangon, and Wuhan and Mandalay have been suspended until February 29 to prevent the spread of the virus to Myanmar, the airport official said. “No other flights have been cancelled,” she added.

China Eastern serves several routes between China and Myanmar.

Mandalay airport authorities said aside from Wuhan, Chinese airlines have also suspended flights from Xiamen, Gaunghou and Guiyang till February 3.

Thirteen Chinese airlines fly to 19 foreign destinations at the airport, where nearly 25,000 Chinese passengers arrived from January 1 to 22.

Minister for Health and Sports Myint Htwe said Friday that no coronavirus patients had been found in the country. However, the ministry has prepared Wainagi Hospital in North Okkalapa township in Yangon Region to treat any victims of the virus.

Daw Khin Khin Gyi, deputy director of Contagious Disease Prevention and Eradication under the Department of Public Health, said strict surveillance measures are being enforced at international airports, seaports and border crossings to prevent the disease from entering the country.

She said that new infrared thermal digital thermometers had been deployed at Mandalay International Airport and Muse border crossing to check on arriving travellers.

The department is also monitoring the border crossings at Myawady in Kayin State and Tachileik in Shan State for travellers showing signs of fever, one of the main symptoms of pneumonia, health officials said

China said on Sunday that 56 people had died and 1975 more have been infected with the disease.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called the outbreak “grave,” and said the government would step up efforts to restrict travel and public gatherings, and rush medical staff and supplies to Wuhan, which remains on lockdown.

Anyone travelling from Wuhan is required to register with community health stations and quarantine themselves at home for 14 days, according to an order from China’s National Health Commission.

The government also reported five cases in Hong Kong, two in Macao and three in Taiwan. Cases have also been found in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the US, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France and Australia.

Canada said it had discovered its first case, a man in his 50s who recently flew from Wuhan to Guangzhou, China, and then to Toronto.

A notice from the US Embassy in Beijing said there would be limited capacity to evacuate US citizens on a Tuesday flight from Wuhan that will fly directly to San Francisco. It said that in the event there are not enough seats, priority would be given to individuals “at greater risk from coronavirus.”

The French Consulate also was considering the evacuation of its nationals from the city. It said it is working on arranging a bus service to help French citizens leave Wuhan. – Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: Myanmar Times

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