Flood of returning Myanmar workers strains quarantine capacity

The thousands of Myanmar citizens returning from abroad by land and air are causing a strain on the government’s quarantine facilities, the country’s first line
of defence against COVID-19.International Cooperation Minister U Kyaw Tin said the country can only process a few hundred citizens a day returning by air as thousands are also returning by land.

The government quarantines returnees in facilities for 14 days to prevent the spread of the disease.
“We especially have to consider quarantine accommodations,” he said during a videoconference with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on July 14.
“The number can’t exceed 700 a week,” he added. “As thousands of people are also entering by land, we are trying to arrange enough quarantine accommodations.”
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the Health and Sports Ministry also has to consider having enough staff, equipment, supplies and medicine for those in quarantine.
U Kyaw Tin said the government has also been trying to repatriate Myanmar workers who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 in Malaysia and want to return home.

The government is negotiating the return of some 10,000 illegal Myanmar workers in Malaysia, including 3000 who are hoping to return after serving prison time,
according to U Soe Han, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The Malaysian Foreign Ministry has compiled a list of some 7000 undocumented Myanmar nationals in Malaysia, and 3000 in prison for being undocumented.As of July 9, some 7142 migrant workers who were in Malaysia with official documents had been brought back to the country, the government said.

Aid groups said there are an estimated 500,000 documented and illegal Myanmar migrant workers in Malaysia.
U Kyaw Tin said that the flights to bring back Myanmar workers from Malaysia depend on the health ministry’s ability to quarantine the returnees.
In May the government said it had enough facilities to quarantine up to 100,000 people, but this could have been affected by the return to the Education Ministry of over 6000 school buildings used as temporary quarantine facilities. The buildings were returned to prepare them for the reopening of school on July 21.
Since the end of May, 56 flights have brought back over 8000 Myanmar citizens from Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, India, Australia, Malaysia, Britain, Philippines,Bangladesh, Japan, United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Taiwan and China.

Tens of thousands more have also returned by land from Thailand and China.
U Kyaw Tin said negotiations are also being held to return about 1800 people on 13 flights in August.
While testing remains one of the most effective ways to detect COVID-19, Myanmar has had to rely mainly on quarantines, contact tracing, and targeted lockdowns to
control the disease due to a lack of financial resources.

Myanmar has reported 331 cases, six deaths and 261 recoveries since the disease was first detected on March 23.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has called on the public to avoid complacency and heed the health ministry’s COVID-19 regulations.
The country has cancelled all international flights until October.According to the ministry, people returning from abroad accounted for 149 of the 155 cases detected since May 16.On July 13 alone, the ministry reported five new cases in people returning from India.
The ministry has so far tested 94,618 people.Yangon has the most cases with 239, Kayin State is second with 26, and Kayah State is the only region that has yet to report a case. – Translated

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Source : Myanmar Times

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