The Burmese government has confirmed the first two cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country on Monday, March 23. The individuals are Myanmar nationals who had returned from the US and the UK. Authorities added that investigations are ongoing to determine people who had been in close contact with the infected individuals.
On Saturday, March 21, Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced additional travel restrictions to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Individuals arriving from countries with high recorded cases of COVID-19, including the US, UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark in the preceding 14 days will be required to undergo a 14-day facility quarantine upon arrival in Myanmar. Additionally, travelers will be required to present a medical certificate to prove that do not have any respiratory symptoms prior to check-in. Foreign travelers who have visited high risk areas such as China's Hubei province, as well as Daegu city and the Gyeongbuk region in South Korea, will be prohibited from entering Myanmar. Authorities have also suspended the issuance of visa on arrival (VOA) and e-visa for all countries until Thursday, April 30.
Meanwhile, all large public gatherings have been prohibited, while schools and cinemas remain close since Friday, March 13, until the end of April as a precautionary measure. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.