As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Only Trucks and Drivers Allowed to Enter Mon State

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Only trucks transporting goods are allowed to come to Mon State, with buses, cars and other vehicles blocked from entering in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, local authorities announced this week.

Checkpoints have been set up since last month at three entrances to the state: Sittaung Bridge and Donthami and Ye towns.

“We are only allowing trucks through. We won’t allow buses and private cars,” Ye Township General Administration Department officer Kan Win told NMG. “If the truck is big, we will allow a driver and assistant driver through for that truck. If the truck is small, we are allowing only the driver to pass the checkpoint after a medical check.”

Medical staff at the checkpoint will be using rapid test kits to test all drivers and their assistants for COVID-19 before allowing them into the state.

The drivers must then wait 72 hours and re-test. If they test negative for a second time, they will be allowed into Mon State.

The test fee, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS) is typically 20,000 kyat (US$15.50), and has been a requirement since October 6. The drivers say that they cannot afford this rate.

“Our salary is not that much… I cannot afford to pay the fee,” an assistant driver who operates a truck between Mandalay and Mawlamyine told NMG. “We have to take the test again after 72 hours with the rapid test kit, so our salary will be gone with the test fees. How are we going to eat?”

According to Mon State’s health department, some drivers and their assistants have so far tested positive for COVID-19 and the Sittaung and Ye checkpoints and are now being treated in Mawlamyine.

People who had contact with these drivers are being identified and sent to designated quarantine centers.

Mon State’s health department reported 325 confirmed cases of COVID-19, seven deaths and 169 recoveries earlier this week.

The MoHS has confirmed 21,433 cases of COVID-19 in Burma, 510 deaths, 6,084 recoveries, as of Thursday.