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Myanmar extends visa and flight bans till July 31

Western tourists mingle with ordinary folks in downtown Yangon. Ko Ko Htay/The Myanmar Times. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANDALAY, Jun 29, 2020, The Irrawaddy. Myanmar has extended visa restrictions and bans on international flights until the end of July as COVID-19 cases continue to be reported among returnees from overseas, The Irrawaddy reported.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said applications for urgent diplomatic and United Nations visas should be made at Myanmar’s embassies.

A 21-day quarantine will be imposed on everyone entering the country, the ministry said on Sunday.

The Department of Civil Aviation said special, relief and cargo flights would continue to operate.

Myanmar banned visas and international flights in March when it reported its first COVID-19 cases. There have now been 299 confirmed cases, with six new cases over the weekend, all of which were imported from India and Thailand. Six deaths have been recorded.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has warned of the danger of a second coronavirus wave and called for the public to continue to take precautions.

The government’s Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19 has banned mass gatherings and imposed a curfew from midnight to 4 am until July 15.

Some restrictions were eased in May, such as the need to stay at home, gatherings of more than five people at government offices, businesses, factories, schools and for training.

Residents in four Yangon townships – Bahan, South Okkalapa, Pabedan and Tamwe – were also allowed to leave their homes after May 29.

Restaurants and teashops are now allowed to reopen. Highway buses and domestic flights restarted with limited passenger numbers.

However, schools, universities and training schools remain closed. Pagodas, monasteries, mosques and churches are still closed to the public.

The government planned to reopen high schools in July but it is unclear if this will happen.

Of the six cases reported over the weekend, three involved military personnel who returned from training in India, according to the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services.

Last Monday, a military delegation led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing left Naypyitaw to attend the 75th anniversary of Russia’s Victory Day, which commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, upon the invitation of Russia’s defense ministry.

Military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun said around 10 presidents and many defense ministers and military chiefs were due to attend the event. The delegation returned to Myanmar on Thursday.

Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said the delegation received health screening before leaving Russia.

The test results have not been made public.

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