Hundreds of Myanmar migrant workers who are returning from China have found themselves stranded near the border in Shan State, as the authorities have blocked access to the main road.
The workers – roughly 300 of them – cannot enter the country without undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, as part of government measures against COVID-19. Most of them work in the China-Myanmar border area.
However, despite blocking the border, Myanmar government authorities have made no accommodation arrangements, the workers have said.
“Around 200 of us are in trouble in Mongla,” one of them told the media. “We are appealing the Myanmar government for help. The hotel costs are so high here. We don’t have any cash.” Another of the workers added that they “have no food or drinks and no place to stay”.
The migrant workers, who tried to enter the country on April 3, have resorted to sleeping on the streets of the Mongla area along the border crossing. They say that the Chinese authorities have helped them reach the China-Myanmar border, but now they cannot pass through since the Myanmar border authorities are operating under government orders.
As per the coronavirus measures taken by the government, starting from March 29, anyone who enters the Mongla region in Myanmar is subject to a 14-day quarantine with their own expenses.
On March 23, when the first coronavirus case was detected in Myanmar, the government closed its land borders to internationals. The Myanmar Foreign Ministry also temporarily suspend entry visas and announced they will not issue any new visas until April 31, except for diplomats, UN officials and aircraft operating to and from Myanmar.
As of April 7, there have been 22 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Myanmar, out of which one has died. Worldwide, the pandemic has surpassed 1 million reported cases, and most countries have issued coronavirus travel restrictions and entry bans in an effort to contain it.