Health officials detected four cases of COVID-19 among individuals staying at a quarantine center in Paletwa town, located in southern Chin State, on Wednesday, November 19.
Awng Law Har, General Administration Development Officer for Paletwa Township, told Khonumthung News that all of the cases are students returning from Yangon. “We sent them to stay in a quarantine center at Myoma Primary School where they tested negative for COVID-19. Three days later, during the second test, they tested positive.”
A total of 31 were sent to the facility, with others returning from northern Shan State and Rakhine State.
Officials are facing difficulties housing everyone in the school.
“We didn’t have enough beds and had to borrow some from a youth training center. There’s also no electricity, water or a bathroom at the Myoma Primary School quarantine center,” Awng Law Har said.
Fighting between Burma Army and Arakan Army (AA) blocked road and water routes to the sequestered town in southern Chin State, reducing power to three hours a day.
The state government provides 3,500 kyats ($2.70) a day for food for each person in quarantine, Awng Law Har said, but because of the conflict, the cheapest meal costs 2,000 kyats ($1.50). To provide two meals per person, he said they need to contribute 500 kyats per day to everyone in the school.
The four students are undergoing medical treatment at Nightingale Hall, near Paletwa Public Hospital,
Locals are fearful of more outbreaks in the town, also home to thousands of internally displaced persons, who were forced from their villages by Burma Army clearance campaigns and fighting with AA.
Ma Aung Ma Phyu said during the pandemic they shouldn’t accept individuals returning from COVID-19 hotspots. “We’re terrified after hearing about the recent cases. Even though the roads aren’t officially open yet, there are people returning. We’re also concerned about getting food,” she said, explaining some closed their stores after the infections were announced.
In Burma, the Ministry of Health and Sports reported there were 74,882 confirmed cases on November 19, while 55,663 have recovered and 1,676 have died from the disease.