Myanmar Closes Pagodas to Control Coronavirus

  • With more than 3,000 pagodas in Bagan, the famous Bagan Pagodas will be closed.
  • Last July 19 Martyrs' Day holiday was a long holiday and thousands of domestic tourists visited Bagan.
  • The construction of a building for the COVID-19 laboratory in Lashio, Shan State, has been delayed.

District Administrator Kyaw Kyaw Ohn said that some pagodas in Bagan, Myanmar had been closed since the morning of July 29 due to a sudden increase in the number of Coronavirus infections in the area, and said they did not comply with the Coronavirus control directives.

COVID-19 was confirmed to have reached Myanmar on 23 March 2020. As of July 30, there have been 353 cases and 6 deaths.

He said this was done to prevent possible crowds during the long Waso full moon holiday in the coming days. “We will have four days’ holiday and many visitors were expecting to visit Bagan. The order is to control crowds as we still need to follow COVID-19 preventive measures,” said U Kyaw Kyaw Ohn from Nyaung-U’s administration office.

Dhammarangyi Locals in Bagan say that there are many pagodas, such as Shwe San Daw and Shwe Si Khone, and most of them have pagodas with guardians. With more than 3,000 pagodas in Bagan, the famous Bagan Pagodas will be closed, but hotels and other pagodas will be allowed to visit.

“We did not officially allow the pagodas to open, however, the trustees of some pagodas and temples allowed a number of pilgrims while some vendors reopened,” the official added.

Last July 19 Martyrs’ Day holiday was a long holiday and thousands of domestic tourists visited Bagan. Bagan-based hotels, restaurants, and passenger lines reopened in July, attracting tourists from all over Burma and some of Bagan’s pagodas. Nyaung Oo District Administrator said the ban was imposed because of fears of a public rally in early August.

“About half of our customers canceled hotel bookings. People visit Bagan not only for its scenic beauty but also for pilgrimages. As the famous temples have closed, visitors will not come,” said a hotel owner in New Bagan.

As Bagan is a tourist destination, hotels based in Bagan have been gradually reopened for tourists, and travelers within Bagan have been allowed with a three-day health certificate. Vendors who rely on the Bagan Pagodas are waiting for holidaymakers and are worried that tourists will not be able to come due to the sudden closure, said Bagan Min Min Oo, a photographer.

“We have bought meat and vegetables as we hoped to receive many pilgrims. What shall we do now the pagodas are closed,” said Ma Htay Htay Tint, who owns a restaurant near Htilominlo Pagoda.

“We have to follow the COVID-19 precautions but we need the pandemic to end as soon as possible as we have suffered enough,” she added.

Bagan is an ancient city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, 4,446 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of 3,822 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

More than 20 well-known pagodas in Bagan have been banned from the morning of July 29, according to board members. Pilgrims are not allowed inside the pagoda and can be seen around the pagoda, while other small pagodas have no restrictions, said the Nyaung-U district administrator.

Building for the COVID-19 Laboratory in Lashio

According to the Ministry of Health and Sports, the construction of a building for the COVID-19 laboratory in Lashio, Shan State, has been delayed due to the lack of permission from the Union Government. Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt, director of the Public Health Department in northern Shan State, told reporters.

“Space has been allocated. It will be built in Lashio Public Hospital. The construction of the building has already been submitted to the Union Government by the state government. It will be disbursed before the budget closes.”

The building will be built inside the Lashio Public Hospital with the state government’s budget. With the approval of the Union Government, the construction period will take about nine weeks.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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