More Chin returnees from Malaysia test positive for COVID-19
Two more cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Tedim, Chin State today, bringing the total number of infected patients in the country’s poorest state to nine.
The two Chin men, officially listed as case-200, aged 38, and case-201, aged 26, respectively become the eighth and ninth patients of COVID-19 in Chin State, which has a population of about half a million people.
The two patients were among 24 Chins who were repatriated from Malaysia and flown in a government-arranged flight from Kuala Lumpur to Yangon on 11 May. They arrived in Tedim on 13 May.
“We are now preparing to transfer them to an isolation unit at the Tedim General Hospital from a quarantine facility. They are co-travellers with case-182 from Malaysia,” said Sia Mung, a leading member of COVID-19 Emergency Committee in Tedim.
“They have bruises and scars on their bodies. We are informed that they got these during their detention in Malaysia,” added Sia Mung. It is not immediately clear how they received the marks on their bodies.
Both returnees had spent over two months in Malaysian immigration detention centers before being flown back into the country with the assistance of Burmese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur as part of an ongoing government’s program to repatriate Burmese citizens languishing in Malaysian jails and immigration depots.
Human rights groups are urging the Malaysia government to refrain from cracking down on migrants and refugees by conducting mass arrests as part of its national response to COVID-19 pandemic.
Yesterday, the UN rights expert on migrants González Morales said in a statement directed at Malaysia, “Alternatives to detention should always be considered first. This is even more important when facing a pandemic, as physical distancing and other preventive measures may not be available in detention facilities.”
With high numbers of reported infections of COVID-19 among those deported from Malaysia, suspicions are rising regarding the safety of Malaysian detention centers, which may become a trans-border breeding ground for the infectious viral disease.
As of now, other co-travellers, apart from case-182 who was initially kept at a quarantine facility in Thantlang and is now being isolated in Hakha after his swab tests proved positive last week, all tested negative while still waiting for their further swab results.
With an increasing number of returning migrants from other countries, the Chin State government is preparing to set up as many as 50 additional quarantine facilities at different locations across all townships.
“The situation of COVID-19 is very unpredictable and volatile. Even if you are close contacts of a newly infected patient, it is very difficult to predict whether you will test positive or not. Therefore, it is still very important for all of us to take extra care, follow the updated guidelines and keep ourselves safe,” a staff member from the Chin State Health Department told Chinland Guardian.
Last Thursday, 16 returnees from India arrived in Rihkhuadar as part of the repatriation program jointly arranged by the governments of Chin State and Mizoram State.
Earlier this week, 85 individuals, who were close contacts of case-150, a returning migrant worker from China, were released from the quarantine facilities in Hakha and Thantlang after their swab tests showed negative for COVID-19.#