Myanmar Renews Flight Ban, Curfew as Infections Hit 7-Month High

Myanmar extended a series of measures by one month to fight Covid-19, as the country reported 1,580 new infections on Wednesday, the highest one-day tally in seven months, according to the Central Committee on Covid-19 Control.

The nation of 55 million people kept its bans on international commercial flights and issuances of various visas and entry permits at borders through at least until July 31. A curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m remains in place, as does a prohibition on public-entertainment activities including showings at movie theaters, festivals and concerts -- in place since March 2020.

Health Minister Thet Khine Win said at a meeting Wednesday that the resurgence of cases was driven by mutated strains of Covid-19, which Myanmar first detected last month. He asked health officials to effectively manage human resources at treatment and quarantine centers.

Thousands of medics have refused to work since the military seized power in February citing voter fraud in the 2020 general elections.

Southeast Asia’s poorest economy reported 157,277 Covid-19 cases, including 3,334 fatalities, as of June 30, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports. Average weekly cases have about doubled in each of the past six weeks, with virus-related deaths surging even faster.

Myanmar isn’t alone in facing a surge. The highly transmissible delta variant has accelerated the outbreaks in nearby Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, which said Thursday that it will temporarily shut malls and place more restrictions on businesses in the economic centers of Java and Bali to halt an exponential rise in coronavirus infections.

Access to Covid vaccines has increasingly become a hurdle for Myanmar, given the delay in shipments from neighboring India, which has also been hard-hit by the virus. The nation, once known as Burma, has received a combined 4 million doses from India and China, with about 3.4 million doses already administered.

Military chief Min Aung Hlaing was quoted as saying in a transcript of an interview with a Russian news service that Myanmar has agreed to purchase 2 million vaccine doses from Russia, and negotiations are under way to buy additional 7 million doses of Sputnik V and single-dose Sputnik Light. The regime will also discuss purchases more vaccines from China, the report said.

The private sector has also received approval from the health ministry to import other vaccines used in the region.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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