27 March 2020
Myanmar confirmed its first two cases of the COVID-19 late on Monday, with both the cases imported. In a press release, the Ministry of Health and Sports confirmed that two men tested positive for the virus and were hospitalized, with unfortunate news spread across the country, most of the organizations and areas including Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the biggest and sacred sites are taking preventive measures against the COVID-19 we will hear out more about it from U Ye Aung Naing, Head officer of the Shwedagon's Board of Trustees Office.
"Starting from 24 January 2020, we have had a special meeting regarding the COVID-19 where we apply appropriate caution signboards, supply enough hand sanitizers across the pagoda and to wear mask if the pagoda is crowded, since we started initiating the foreigners with all those measures, we try to do as much as we can to prevent and take more cautious actions such as measuring the temperature, convincing to wear mask and sanitization of the hands.
With the current circumstances to be more alert, Shwedagon’s Board of Trustees also decided to reduce opening hour of Shwedagon Pagoda, which has been confirmed to be changed from 4:00am to 10:00pm opening hour to 9:00am to 4:00pm. To take a more cautious approach and carry out prevention a priority is such a great way for the Shwedagon Pagoda Board of Trustees' Office to initiate, we will hear more about such actions from U Ye Aung Naing.
"As we have been informed from the Ministry of Health and Sports we have also been taking really serious actions on the sanitization of the local visitors as well, if the temperature exceeds the standardized one, we let them rest for a while and re-measure, but if it still exceeds we ask if he or she might have COVID-19 related symptoms, if one were to have those kinds of symptoms, we will be contacting the special trained volunteers to handle Covid-19 cases in Yangon, we will also be taking help from Bahan and Dagon Township health care professionals. We have also prepared health care professional air tight suits to handle the issues, even though we have over 30 of those suits we may need more because it is only a one time or one day usage. In summary we have done as much as we can to prioritize the prevention of virus."
I also interviewed local visitors for how they are feeling while visiting Shwedagon Pagoda and their perspective on the measures Shwedagon it taking. Ko Latt Htun said, "I think it is obvious that there are fewer visitors that come to the Pagoda as soon as they have heard the news but, we can say it is a great thing as they care more about the social distancing of their wellbeing. But for now, I think we should not overthink and believe the fake news, we should do as much as we can to prevent, like washing hands and staying in some distance might help in my opinion."
Ko Thet Oo Maung also expresses his feelings, "I don't think people are on a panic mode, most of them seem to be chilled and do what they can to prevent, which I think is a kind of a good sign. In my perspective we should not be too panicky as well and carry out normal preventions that everybody knows like sanitizing the hands, wearing mask if you are to go into the crowd or distancing yourselves with others. At Shwedagon, I feel like they are doing a great job announcing regularly on how we should take actions relating to preventions. Overall, I am feeling really positive that we will get over with this soon."