The government extended the lockdown in a town in Chin State, the location of Burma’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, for another seven days.
Keptel, in Tedim township, has been under lockdown since March 26, after a 36-year-old man that returned from the US attended a prayer service before he was to be married. The seven-day extension came into effect on April 21. At least four people who had contact with the bridegroom, including his mother that also returned from the US at the same time as the man, tested positive. The latest case on April 20 was a male from Tedim town where patient ‘zero’ visited before Keptel.
Soe Htet, the Chin State municipal minister, told Khonumthung News, Tedim could be the next town locked down to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Although nothing’s been finalized he said some preparations are underway. Soe Htet said they need to make sure residents have enough water, food and power. “We still have problems with water and electricity,” he said, explaining that a lockdown would cut off vital transportation routes between Tedim, Tongzan and Kyehkar.
Ko Htawng Shen Ton, from the COVID-19 Emergency Committee-Tedim, warned against locking the town without adequate arrangements made for all the township’s residents. “If Tedim is locked, many in the countryside will suffer because they aren’t prepared for it. They don’t have extra rice, cooking oil, salt and fish paste,” he said.
In Tedim, there are about 60 people under home quarantine, said Soe Htet, and over 50 are in quarantine in the high school. The minister said the bridegroom, his mother and 3 others that contracted the virus after meeting him are receiving medical treatment and in stable condition. The area around the mother’s house has been sealed off. In Kalay Township, located in Sagaing Region, which borders Tedim, there are six confirmed cases. The bridegroom visited Kalay before getting sick.
On April 22, the government’s Ministry of Health Services reported 139 cases of coronavirus, while 5 people have died and 9 have recovered. With limited testing and access to testing facilities, the number of infections could be much higher.