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A city in Yunnan province being lockdown following illegal immigration from Myanmar

September 16, 2020

On September 15, the city of Ruili in Yunnan province has been put in lockdown following the report of two imported cases from Myanmar, a mother and her domestic helper who illegally entered China. The lockdown of the city is expected to last for one week, with all but essential workers needing to stay at home and all facilities but supermarkets, pharmacies and wet markets being closed. The entire population of the city will be tested while the authorities will look for people who have crossed the border illegally and repatriate them to Myanmar.

Myanmar is suffering its first major outbreak, which started in mid-August. The state of Rakhine accounts for almost 25% of the country’s cases, and is located on the border with India. The Southeast Asian peninsula had controlled COVID-19 outbreaks in its own territory up to now, with less than 10,000 total cases for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. However, the surge of cases in Myanmar should put neighbouring countries on high alert, especially with the frequent illegal border crossings.

A similar event occurred at the beginning of July, when Vietnam had seen an increase of COVID-19 cases in one of its tourist locations with 40 illegal immigrants from China suspected of being the origin of the outbreak despite the country closing all its borders. The Vietnamese authorities managed to stop this second wave by putting the city under lockdown and reinforcing their border patrols.

Following the situation in Ruili, the Yunnan authorities announced that they would strengthen their inspection of the borders, especially at night, for this province is bordered by Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. This event emphasizes the importance of monitoring the situation of bordering countries even when borders are closed in order to combat rapidly possible introductions of the disease in the community.

Here are some news articles discussing this issue in English:

South China Morning Post – Coronavirus: Chinese city on Myanmar border in lockdown, scrambles to stop illegal entry

Global Times - Illegal border crossings from Myanmar trigger lockdown; Ruili to begin citywide tests

Asia Times – Inside view of Vietnam’s Covid second wave

Here are some news articles discussing this issue in Chinese:

明報 - 雲南瑞麗兩偷渡者確診 邊境進入防疫戰時狀態

BBC中文 – 新冠疫情: 中国云南有偷渡客确诊 多个边境城镇进入“战时状态”


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