Chinese City Scheduled for Limited Re-opening  After COVID-19 Scare

A Chinese city on the border with Myanmar last week began testing thousands of residents for the coronavirus after two Myanmar migrants tested positive. In Ruili, a Yunnan province transit point on the porous 2,200-kilometer border, officials issued a lockdown order. Authorities rounded up many illegal migrant workers and sent them back to Myanmar. Medical worker in protective suit collects a swab sample from a woman for nucleic acid testing in the border city of Ruili, Sep. 16, 2020.Home quarantine for residents was scheduled to be lifted on Monday at 10 p.m. but cinemas, bars and internet cafes will remain shut, Reuters reported from the statement. That partial reopening will come a day after the Myanmar Health Ministry announced a stay-at-home order for the Yangon region effective Monday amid a record daily increase in new cases of COVID-19.  There are 44 townships in the Yangon region with a total population of more than 5 million people. On Monday, the health ministry said it had recorded 264 new coronavirus cases, with most of the recent new infections in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city and commercial center. Myanmar has reported a total of 6,151 COVID-19 cases and 98 deaths as of Monday, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The Ruili episode began on September 3, when a 32-year-old woman from Myanmar took her three children and two nurses across the border from Muse to Ruili and stayed at her sister’s home, according to one of China’s official news outlets, The Global Times.  Everyone in the sister’s residential area was tested, and all 1,185 results were negative. Authorities tracked down 190 close contacts and quarantined them, according to the report. 
 
While the virus appears to be under control in much of China, Myanmar has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases and the scare in Ruili resulted in the shutdown of all business operations and public transit with everyone required to wear masks in public places.  The lockdown made life difficult for many.  “Even though the border gate is not completely closed, there are very few trucks crossing the border,” Win Aung Khant, chairman of Muse Highway Truckers Association said. “Myanmar trucks are not allowed to enter or unload goods in … Ruili.  There are almost no Myanmar workers in Chinese side.”   Nang Aye Sein, spokesperson for the Lashio Chamber of Commerce, said agricultural and fishery export businesses were the most affected by the lockdown.  In a press conference on September 14, Yang Bianqiang, deputy director of the police department in Dehong Prefecture, where Ruili is located, said securing the border was difficult.  “There is no natural border between Ruili and Myanmar,” he said. “Citizens in Ruili and Myanmar speak the same language and visit each other very often. It is difficult to monitor their travels.”  The Myanmar and Yunnan border is infamous for its illicit activities in commodities such as jade, the number of illegal migrant workers who cross into China and the Chinese who cross into Myanmar to gamble in border town casinos.  In February, authorities on each side of the border in Ruili and Muse cooperated after five people believed to be infected with the coronavirus crossed from China into Myanmar.Wuhan Man, a Fugitive in Myanmar, Turns Himself in to Chinese PoliceUnidentified man who surrendered belonged to a group of five Wuhan residents who slipped across the border into Myanmar last week, according to authorities


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