Civilians Threatened With Jail Time For Accepting Face Masks

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The Burma Army threatened to imprison civilians if they took personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), said the spokesperson.

“Villagers told us the Burma Army warned them not to accept any assistance from our medical teams,” RCSS/SSA Col Sao Ohm Khur said. When they threaten villagers because we’re trying to help them “it impacts trust for peacebuilding.”

Since the first week of April, RCSS/SSA medics have been providing PPE to townships in southern Shan State to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In Nawng Lay and Mai Pok villages, located in Mongpan township, the medics took temperatures and provided information in Shan about preventing coronavirus infections with hand washing and mask-wearing. They gave face masks, hand sanitizer and flyers with information about COVID-19.

Loong Sai, from Mai Pok, said it was a great idea the RCSS/SSA medical team came to his village. “I think they want to help us,” he said but was also worried after the Burma Army threatened to arrest them.

The Burma Army attacked the RCSS/SSA on April 12 while its medics carried out a COVID-19 awareness campaign near Mongpan Township. Sai Noung, a parliamentarian for the township, told SHAN there’s no-one else to assist villagers as no public health workers are willing to travel to the area.

On April 22, there were 121 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Burma. Seven have recovered from the disease and five died.


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