Truck drivers across Myanmar in limbo as states, regions enforce COVID-19 restrictions

Truck drivers across Myanmar in limbo as states, regions enforce COVID-19 restrictions

A rising number of truck drivers across Myanmar are in limbo now that the states and regions are enforcing restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Last week, Shan State temporarily banned vehicles and passengers from other states and regions between October 1 and October 14 after several truck drivers entering the state tested positive.
Initially, the authorities had set regulations that truck drivers who need to enter Muse, the Myanmar-China border trade post in Shan State, will be permitted to do so only with a health certificate issued by the Ministry of Health and Sports certifying that they are clear of the virus within two weeks of testing, according to the Shan State COVID-19 Control and Emergency Response Committee on September 30.

But none of the truck drivers and their assistants who entered Shan State since have had COVID-19 clearance certificates, said U Soe Nyunt Lwin, Shan State Planning and Finance Minister.

Instead, officials will now conduct COVID-19 tests on truck drivers and their assistants within two days of their entry into Shan State, said U Myo Tun, Shan State Social Affairs Minister.

Shan State has already received 2250 antigen test kits to conduct COVID-19 tests on the truck drivers and their helpers. Antigen kits are rapid test kits capable of producing results within half an hour State authorities will ask the Ministry of Health and Sports for more test kits if necessary, U Soe Nyunt Lwin said.

As a result of that bottleneck though, hundreds of trucks bearing goods for trade are being stranded at holding areas outside Shan State as well as other states and regions like Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay as drivers await their test results.

Many of these drivers have limited cash for food and temporary accommodation, the Myanmar Times understands. Meanwhile, traders incur losses on delays as the drivers are held back from delivering on time as well as on perishable goods that require proper cold storage.

Trucks drivers that pass through Nay Pyi Taw en route to other cities, for example, must obtain a COVID-19-free health certificate from their respective region or state authorities, according to the National Level Central Committee for Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19.

The drivers can also take a COVID-19 test in Nay Pyi Taw and be allowed to continue with their journeys after the relevant health certificates indicating they tested negative are issued. If positive, they will be put under quarantine.

Similar requirements are being put in place in Mandalay.

As of October 3, Myanmar had detected a total of 16,503 positive cases of COVID-19 and a total of 371 deaths and 4795 recoveries.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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