Today is not a time to panic, but to take action


With yesterday’s suspension of tourists from crossing into the country from border check-points countrywide, Myanmar authorities are taking one more significant action to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection from neighbouring countries.
We believe that the fewer the number of travellers arriving from Coronavirus outbreak countries, the less the possibility for the disease to spread throughout our country.
Meanwhile, we must scale up the number of health checks to Myanmar citizens holding passports, border pass-BP and temporary border pass-TBP, who are allowed to cross at border checkpoints, and also increase surveillance at international airports.
More aggressive steps, such as limiting the size of gatherings to fewer than 50 people, closing bars, fitness centres and cinemas, and ordering restaurants to only offer take-out or delivery are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across Myanmar. These limitations are difficult, but they are necessary.
The most important advice to offer the public is to follow WHO guidance on reducing transmissions through measures, such as proper handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and practicing social distancing.
For the authorities, they are obliged to share updated information on COVID-19 in a timely manner and with transparency through media, including social media, to ensure that people do not become exploited by fake news and rumours.
The nation’s health workers and people have been advised to follow the guidance and directives from the Ministry of Health and Sports.
The prevention and control measures, including aggressive actions such as closing schools and cancelling events, are a disruption to our lives, but we need to ensure that the public understands that these measures are necessary for their safety.
WHO’s regional director has called upon Southeast Asian countries to urgently scale up all efforts to prevent the virus from infecting more people, as there are concerns about the weaker public health care systems in many countries of the region.
We need to evaluate our daily efforts at ground level and seek advice from the central government to tackle the challenges in order to prevent the epidemic striking our country.
Because COVID-19 is a new virus with no vaccine to prevent its transmission or antiviral to treat it yet, the answer is that everyone must act to combat this health menace.
It’s not a time to panic. The point is that we need to take this very seriously, even though there are still no confirmed cases in our country.

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