One refugee returning to Maungdaw from Bangladesh tests positive for COVID-19

Ein Soe Hpyu

Narinjara | June 4 2020

One person has tested positive for Corona virus (COVID-19) in Maungdaw township, Rakhine state, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports. The patient, a 38 year old Muslim refugee, had returned to Myanmar from Bangladesh via Hla Poe Kaung transit camp in Maungdaw. 

While the Myanmar government has announced that it will temporarily suspend processing returnees from Bangladesh due to COVID-19, this person have made their own travel arrangements to return from Bangladesh.

 According to Maungdaw district administrator U Soe Aung, “they entered Myanmar illegally.  They illegally came into the country on May 30. There are lots of places where they can cross illegally.  Even so, they found them in time to give health test.  They will be isolated now.  There is a family of five. They haven’t come into contact with anyone else.  We aren’t doing a lock down in Maungdaw, and on this side of the border, we don’t have any cases of the virus. We have also closed the entrance to Maungdaw” he said.

Five people, including the person who tested positive, entered Myanmar from Bangladesh on May 30.  On May 31, they entered quarantine, on June 1 a swab sample was taken and sent for testing the following day.

 In a statement released today, the Ministry of Health and Sports announced amongst the five people tested at the COVID-19 laboratory, patient 234 has tested positive for COVID-19. Patient 234 will be medically cared for and treated at Maungdaw Hospital, the statement said.

One teacher from Maungdaw who wanted to remain anonymous said “I first heard this news last night, but today it was confirmed. The whole town is in a state of alarm, if there is an outbreak here then its going to be really bad” the teacher said.

 This is the third confirmed person to test positive for COVID-19 in Rakhine state.

Across Myanmar, 234 people have tested positive for the virus to date.  Amongst them six people have died and 145 people have fully recovered following treatment, according to the Ministry of Health and Sport.

 In Bangladesh, 736 people have so far died from COVID-19, with 55,140 people testing positive, and 11,590 people fully recovered, according to the Bangladeshi Ministry of Health

 Residents in Maungdaw have voiced their fear of the virus, saying they are especially afraid since on a daily basis people illegally cross into Maungdaw along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.