Local authorities in Kalay, Sagaing Region say that they will not put the town on lockdown, following a government announcement that the first documented coronavirus cases have been found in Tedim, Chin State, and Yangon, respectively.
After denying that the COVID-19 virus had any presence in the country, despite a rising number of cases among neighboring countries, Burmese authorities said on Monday evening that they had identified two cases of the coronavirus in men that had recently traveled abroad.
Kalay borders Chin State, and is connected to Tedim by road. An ethnic Chin man who had returned to Tedim after traveling to the US, is one of the two people confirmed by Burma’s health ministry as having the coronavirus. Rumors began to circulate that nearby Kalay would shut down in response. However, Kalay District General Administration Department (GAD) officer Khin Maung Cho said that further restrictions on movement are not being considered at this time.
“Lockdown means people are not allowed to go out of their homes. Here in Kalay, we don’t need to do a lockdown. Currently, we don’t have any plan for a lockdown,” he told Khonumthung News.
Khin Maung Cho said that medical checks will be carried out on those traveling between Kalay and Tedim.
“We haven’t shut down the road. We will strictly carry out medical checks on travelers,” the GAD officer said. “The authorities are not closing the road in the Chin mountains. Local people who live in Tedim can return to Tedim. Now Kalay university is closed. If students face difficulties returning to Tedim, we will manage their trip. We haven’t closed any gates. We are just checking.”
Eyewitnesses have reported a different scene. A Khonumthung News reporter traveled to the Asope checkpoint on road between Kalay and Chin State, and said that the authorities manning the checkpoint were allowing people to travel out of Kalay and into Chin State, but not the other way around.
“Actually, the authorities are not allowing travelers to come into Kalay town. There are many travelers and vehicles stopped on the Khai Kam side,” the reporter said, referring to the area before reaching Kalay Township.
Khin Maung Cho said that locals in Kalay should not panic and should follow directives from Burma’s ministry of health and sport regarding the global coronavirus pandemic.