No one has calculated that Mongla, also known as Special Region 4, internationally nefarious for its casino, flesh trade, wildlife trafficking and money laundry would be able to do such a superb job in battling the spread of coronavirus within its territory, now officially dubbed as Covid-19.
Starting from the last week of January, when most Myanmar government agencies were unaware or paid little or no attention, on January 26, Mongla issued the first warning on preventive measures taken in its area and how to best behave in the midst of coronavirus infection.
During the five weeks until the end of February, Mongla authorities have issued nine announcements to the people residing within its territory in Burmese, Chinese, Shan and Akha languages in its various media outlets, most notably in home channel TV and social media.
The awareness-building of Covid-19 and checking on preventive measures have been ongoing, besides close cooperation with the adjacent Yunan Province of China. Mongla the major town of Special Region 4 is located opposite Daluo, a Chinese border town in Yunnan Province, and approximately 258 kilometers from Mae Sai, a border town of Thailand, and approximately 80 kilometers north-east of Kengtung.
Coronnavirus prevention teams have been doing the awareness-building in settlements and villages, even using drones to monitor the citizens and warning those who are not wearing protective masks, copying China’s monitoring system which has won praise for its effectiveness.
There were also several meetings conducted in Mongla and China on how to coup with the coronavirus situation and implementation of the preventive measures in February, according to Mongla TV and Mongla News Facebook.
On February 5, coronavirus prevention team of Special Region 4 made an announcement on its deliberation to coup with the situation under ten headings as below.
- Increased examination of asymptomatic patients
- Increased administration of transportation control
- Hotels and tourist facilities not to accept people from Hubei District, China, or those who have traveled to the said area
- Increased control of supermarkets and markets, including (mass) gathering of people
- Increased control of restaurants and eating facilities to be hygienic
- Adherence of systematic medical care suggestions
- Effective control of quarantined areas for asymptomatic patients
- Control and administered commodity market prices to be stable
- Coronavirus preventive teams to seriously discharge their duties to prevent contagious disease
- Public to inform authorities as soon as possible if breaching of announced regulations is detected
On the same day, coronavirus prevention team for Special Region 4 was formed, with 17 committee members, headed by Vice-Chairman U San Pe of Peace and Unity Committee.
On February 7, transportation between Special Region 4 and Special Region 2 or Wa Self-Administered Division, was announced prohibited, except for emergency and special necessities. However, transportation of commodities and necessary items were allowed.
On February 14, Mongla Economic Committee took measures to lighten the burden of the companies and traders by announcing the new tax regulation, which states: from February 1 to 29 all taxes will be exempted; from March 1 to 30 taxes will be lowered by 50%; and from April 1 the condition of taxation rate will be announced depending on the condition.
In addition to the regulations imposed on the restaurants and eating facilities with the announcement on February 1, Mongla authorities also made use of the World Health Organization’s suggestion on how to handle coronavirus situation generally in all its media outlets , especially the handling of meat and seafood, in order to prevent infection.
Reportedly, wildlife buying, selling and consuming are strictly prohibited and thus could be said that it is now effectively curtailed. And with China prohibiting the wildlife trade and consuming it on February 24 permanently, Mongla might also do likewise, as most of its customers are from China.
Lately, in Mongla News Facebook, the closing of a Karaoke televiosn entertainment and arrest were made public, indicating that it is not tolerating the breach of restriction by entertainment establishments.
In sum, Mongla with its relatively small population, good infrastructure, excellent public addressing systems like local TV channel, widespread mobile phone usage and connections using China’s telecommunication system, is able to coup with the coronavirus monitoring and control situation quite efficiently and effectively.
For now it’s two well-equipped hospitals – Mongla People’s Hospital and Myanmar-China Friendship Hospital – haven’t house any infected patient yet. Reportedly, Mongla’s authorities are said to be ready for such eventuality but let’s hope that it won’t have to make use of it.