14 July 2021, Sittwe
Travellers to Arakan State will be put under quarantine if they come from townships under stay-at-home orders imposed by the Ministry of Health and Sports, the Arakan State-level State Administration Council member U Hla Thein told journalists on July 14.
The Arakan State SAC is seeking to avoid suspending transportation in Arakan State and instead aims to tighten up regulations on travellers entering the state via its motorways, waterways and air routes, he said.
“Currently, 97 townships are under stay-at-home orders. Travellers have to show a document indicating the address they come from. If they are from the townships under stay-at-home orders, we will place them in quarantine,” U Hla Thein said.
The addresses of travellers who are from other townships would be recorded, he added.
“We do not impose travel restrictions in Arakan State. But travellers to Arakan State who are from a township under stay-at-home order will be quarantined whether they enter the state via waterway or motorway or flight,” he said.
Saw San Nyein Thu, chair of the Rakhine Women Initiative Organisation, said placing travellers in quarantine was not a solution to controlling Covid-19 infections in the state.
“I don’t see any effective activities to control the people in the capital Sittwe. And, we need to think about how we take responsibility for the people in quarantine,” she said, adding that the latter concern was top of mind because she had first-hand experience staying at a quarantine centre with poor facilities during the previous, second wave of Covid-19.
Meanwhile two quarantine centres have already been set up in Minbya Township to house returnees from other areas and suspected Covid carriers who have come in contact with virus-positive patients, according to a member of the township administration council.
The Minbya town hall and an indoor stadium have been converted into quarantine centres since July 10 and returnees will be placed under observation at these facilities, said U Tha Khin Cho, a member of the Minbya Township Administration Council.
“We have already made preparations and at present, no one has entered Minbya from any other place,” he added. “Our main goal is to keep people who have been in contact with the virus-positive patients in these quarantine centres.”
The local health department is working with the relevant authorities to ensure that people in Minbya Township follow the rules and regulations issued by the department, he said.
“The health department instructs local people to wash their hands twice a day and wear a mask whenever they go out. The health department also conducts awareness campaigns about the risks of coronavirus four times a day. We have not yet taken action against those who do not wear masks,” he continued.
Ko Nay Nyein Chan, chairman of the Minbya Youths Association, said locals should not be afraid to seek medical attention if they suspect they have been infected with the deadly virus.
“Local people tend to be careless about the virus. The shops are always open. In addition, some people are secretly treated at home without going to the clinic for fear of going to the quarantine centre, even if they’ve lost their sense of smell,” he said, referring to a tell-tale symptom of Covid-19.
At present, there are at least seven Covid-confirmed patients in Minbya Township.
As of July 13, a total of 996 cases and 17 deaths were reported in Arakan State since the pandemic’s third wave began in May, according to the state’s Department of Public Health, with those numbers steadily rising over the past week.