Militia, EAO Restrict Travel in Hpruso Township to Prevent Spread of COVID-19

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In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Kayaw Ni People’s Militia Force (PMF) has restricted travel from beyond a checkpoint on a road through Hpruso Township in Karenni State for one week.

Also known as the Karenni National Peace and Development Party, the Kayaw Ni PMF is not allowing vehicles to travel past the eight-mile gate on the Hpruso-Ho Yar road.

“If travelers cannot show a medical check document, they are not allowed to enter the village. People who have just returned from the border or from a foreign country must show their medical check document and then they are allowed to enter the village,” Michael, who is the local administrator for Yarapra and Dohlarsaw village tracts, told Kantarawaddy Times, referring to a certificate from a hospital declaring their health.

The extra checks began on March 20.

Both the Kayaw Ni PMF and the ethnic armed organization (EAO) the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) have set up checkpoints on the west side of Hpruso Township, an area once popular with domestic tourists who often visit Sinphyu Tawng—White Elephant Mountain—in the area. Tourism has dwindled with the threat of COVID-19.

Hpoe Reh, the deputy in-charge of the KNPP’s liaison office in Loikaw, said that the border between Thailand and Karenni State—which allowed for local crossings—is closed.

Htaru, the headman of Moso village in Hpruso Township, said that flyers have been distributed around the community about the coronavirus. He added that they have provided a list of people who recently returned from foreign countries to the local health department and informed them to self-quarantine from their families for 14 days. It is unclear how or if they are able to do this.

On Thursday, there were two people in Hpruso’s public hospital suspected of having COVID-19. They recently returned from traveling outside of Burma.

Burma’ health ministry confirmed this week that three people have been infected with the coronavirus in the country. With hundreds of thousands of infections globally, and rising numbers in Burma’s neighboring countries, the number has been questioned by activists and medical professionals, who say that poor access to healthcare and testing could account for the low figures.

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