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Myanmar Muslims offer mosques to help fight coronavirus

Muslim religious buildings could be turned into quarantine sites, if necessary, says head of Muslim group

Kyaw Ye Lynn   | 25.03.2020
Myanmar Muslims offer mosques to help fight coronavirus

YANGON, Myanmar 

The Muslim community in Myanmar on Wednesday called for a unity in fighting the coronavirus as the country reported three positive cases of COVID-19, so far. 

Tin Maung Than, secretary of Islamic Religious Affairs Council Myanmar, said thousands of mosques across the country could be used in fighting the coronavirus.

“There are more than 1,000 mosques in Myanmar as well as several Muslim religious schools. There are also hotels, apartments and buildings owned by Muslim businessmen. These places can be used temporarily in fighting virus,” he told Anadolu Agency by phone.

He added that the council informed the national and regional governments, and Ministry of Health and Sports that religious buildings could be turned into temporary hospitals and quarantine sites, if necessary.

Authorities imposed self-quarantine for Myanmar nationals who returned from neighboring countries such as Thailand, China and Laos through border passes.

“The council also requested local Muslim community to help those returnees in self-quarantine in their respective places,” he said.

“This is time we have to join hand. With unity, we can overcome this situation,” he said.

Myanmar on late Tuesday reported third case of virus, known as COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health and Sports said a 26-year-old Myanmar man, who recently travelled to U.K and arrived backed in the country on March 21, was tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized.

The country confirmed first two cases of the coronavirus on Monday in its nationals, who have travel history to the U.S. and the U.K.

Health authorities have been on high alert since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a pandemic earlier this month.

Authorities in Myanmar have been preparing makeshift quarantine facilities across the country as tens of thousands of returnees, mostly migrant workers from neighboring Thailand and China, continue to arrive through the country's border gates.

Beside public hospitals, apartments, hotels and religious buildings have also been prepared as possible quarantine facilities as of growing number of suspected patients.

The Health Ministry said more than 500 people have been isolated in hospitals and temporary quarantine sites in the country as of March 24.

After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 170 countries and territories. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 423,000 while the death toll is nearly 19,000 and nearly 109,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.

Despite the rising number of cases, most who contract the virus suffer only mild symptoms before making a recovery.

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