With a spirally upward number of locally transmitted Coronavirus infection cases, Rakhine State’s Sittway Township has imposed stay-at-home orders, which took effect at 8 pm yesterday. The Ministry of Health and Sports issued the order to effectively contain the spread of the infectious disease after the township saw 22 positive cases in four days. The need for this move is not in doubt as the country does everything possible to avert further spread of the virus. It is critically important that all the local people follow public health guidelines for their safety and their loved ones and the country at large. The government has imposed disease control rules and health guidelines. Local authorities have given strong advice to tighten them to ensure individuals obey those rules and guidelines. The rules aren’t complicated. Please stick to the basics: wear masks over the face and nose, wash your hands thoroughly; stay at home; only one person per household go for shopping; observe social distancing in every situation. People are obliged to understand the prohibitions and to follow the official advice.
Those who violate the restrictions imposed by the health authorities under the Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases Law can face six month jail terms, fines of K50,000, or both. Meanwhile, another threat to public health in this time of crisis is fake news. Those who spread fake news intentionally to cause panic can be jailed for one year or fined, or both. Any threat to public health is classified as a “crime”.
On the other side, local authorities are obliged to inform the public with updated information on the COVID-19 outbreak in our country, to ease the public’s fear and anxiety. The time has come to increase our efforts, especially in Sittwe Township, in raising awareness about the COVID-19 disease, to ensure that local communities understand that they can protect themselves from the infection by following health guidelines and social distancing.
No one knows how long this order will remain in effect. All we can do is comply and help our families and neighbours, as much as possible.