Hpakant Jade Mines Area Sees Increase in COVID-19 Cases

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Kachin State’s health department reported 23 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hpakant Township on Wednesday, bringing the total in the area to 45.

In addition to those in Hpakant, there were two new infections in Mohnyin and one in Myitkyina.

“People are shocked by the rise in confirmed cases,” Nawng Latt, a Kachin National Congress parliamentary candidate for Hpakant, told NMG. “Working class people are struggling for their daily survival. A stay-at-home order has already been imposed here. Authorities issue travel permission for health issues or to go buy something in the market. In my opinion, this will be difficult in the long term.”

He said that the authorities had already locked down two areas of Hpakant, Mawsizar and Phyusinkon.

The authorities reported to the President’s Office that jade extraction had been halted in Hpakant from October until the end of November due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.  

Hpakant Township’s COVID-19 Control and Response Committee announced that travelers who wish to enter the township must have a recommendation letter from their respective ward and village headman.

Those from Kachin State must then quarantine for 14 days at home, and those from outside the state must stay at a designated quarantine facility managed by the local authorities, and cover the cost of their food during that time.

Officials from Myitkyina, Hpakant, Mohnyin and Mohgaung townships and the Kachin State health department held a meeting on September 30 to discuss the confirmed cases of COVID-19, as well as prevention measures.

“People need to stay home. People need to follow the guidelines of the MoHS [Ministry of Health and Sports]. If people have contact with someone who has a confirmed case [of COVID-19] within 14 days [of testing positive], those people must immediately report to the respective health department,” the state’s public health department urged in a statement.

“The number of confirmed cases is increasing every day,” local man Naw Tawng told NMG. “The problem is that the Kachin State government’s statement came very late. I think they should release statements in real time.”

He added that he did “not see effective prevention” taking place in Hpakant or Myitkyina and was worried that the virus would continue to spread.

He praised civil society’s response to the first wave of COVID-19 infections in the country, and said he hoped they would continue to work on prevention during the ongoing second wave. “Political parties are now focusing on their party matters. Nobody is talking about [COVID-19],” Naw Tawng added.