The cost of the coronavirus to Myanmar’s economy

THE IMPACT on Myanmar of the coronavirus outbreak that began in neighbouring China late last year has hit border trade and tourism hard, and there were reports last week that the garment sector was also being affected by supply-chain disruptions.

As of February 17, Myanmar was monitoring eight people for symptoms of the Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, the Ministry of Health and Sport said. Earlier suspected cases of this novel type of coronavirus, including some in which patients were held in quarantine, have been confirmed as negative. COVID-19, which is a relative of the SARS and MERS coronaviruses, currently lacks a specific medical treatment and a vaccine is still being developed.

China’s decision to close four border crossings at the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year to help contain the spread of the disease has sparked a sharp downturn in trade, with the agriculture, aquaculture and seafood sectors the worst affected.

The number of Chinese tourists has also slumped, partly because visa rules have been tightened while the outbreak remains uncontrolled and also because of airlines cancelling services.

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Ye Mon