Southeast Asian countries ramp up coronavirus restrictions

Bangkok Desk, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- Countries across Southeast Asia on Monday were increasing restrictions on people’s movements and activities as part to fight the spread of the coronavirus, as foreign tourists mull whether to stay in the region or return home.

Authorities in Myanmar banned all international flights from Monday, with the exception of cargo and special service flights, until 13 April, to stop the increase in the number of cases, which currently stands at 10 in the country.

Although the number of cases is still low, tens of thousands of Myanmar migrant workers are returning from neighboring countries, which could cause a steep increase in the rate of infections and easily overwhelm the country’s fragile health system.

At the weekend, Burmese authorities announced they would no longer issue any foreign visas until the end of April, following similar measures taken in Vietnam and Malaysia.

In Indonesia, authorities in the city of Tegal, which is home to some 239,000 people, closed the city off except for one access point, which will be under constant surveillance.

With more than 1,400 cases and 122 deaths, the Indonesian government is mulling imposing more drastic restrictions in the coming days to slow the infections.

Authorities on the Thai tourist island of Phuket, meanwhile, have announced the closure of the airport from 10 April, after already having blocked maritime access, and have ordered a curfew from 8pm until 3am.

As more and more flights from Bangkok to Europe get cancelled, tourists are being left to decide whether to return home, as recommended by various European governments, or remain in Thailand.

Currently standing at 1,500 infections and only nine deaths, the situation remains stable in Thailand, although cases continue to increase by more than 100 each day.

The tourist sector across the region has taken a heavy hit since the outbreak began in December, and authorities in the Philippines have urged hotels to donate beds and other supplies to help in the fight against the COVID-19 disease.

Senators called on hotels to donate pillows, bedding and other essentials to quarantine centers amid a total quarantine throughout the central island of Luzon, which is home to the capital city Manila.

Over 1,400 cases have been registered in the archipelago, with 78 deaths and 42 recoveries, according to John Hopkins University. EFE-EPA


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