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Thailand Battens Down Myanmar Border As Coronavirus Surges in Rakhine

A military patrol searches for illegal migrants on the border with Cambodia.
A military patrol searches for illegal migrants on the border with Cambodia.

Health officials in areas bordering Myanmar have been ordered to watch out for illegal migrants as the coronavirus spreads in the neighboring country.

Dr. Sophon Iamsirithaworn, director of the Bureau of General Communicable Diseases at the Department of Disease Control, said Covid-19 was spreading from India to Bangladesh and Myanmar and the number of coronavirus patients soaring in Myanmar.

Myanmar reported 12 more locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Monday morning, bringing the number of infections to 787 in total, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health and Sports.

According to the ministry, 11 newly confirmed cases are from Rakhine state while the other one is from Yangon region.

Security and health officials in many provinces bordering Myanmar were seriously blocking illegal migrants from Myanmar, he said.

Sophon said that the Ministry of Public Health was asking operators to suspend importing workers from at-risk areas and refrain from employing illegal migrants because that would otherwise bring Covid-19 to the country. Local administrators were asked to help prevent illegal immigration.

The director of general communicable diseases also warned people to avoid at-risk areas, wear face masks while going out, frequently wash hands, observe social distancing and use the Thaichana check-in and check-out application to facilitate disease control in case of a new outbreak.