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Myanmar Imposes COVID-19 Restrictions as Cases Surge

A man walks on a blocked street in an area locked down to curb the spread of the coronavirus, in Yangon, Myanmar, Sept. 11, 2020.

The government of Myanmar Friday imposed its toughest measures so far to control the spread of the coronavirus, banning travel from its commercial capital, Yangon, the country's transportation hub and transit point, and grounding all domestic flights.

Both measures, announced just hours before taking effect, will be in place until October 1.

Myanmar appeared to have largely been spared from the pandemic, having recorded just 353 coronavirus cases as of the beginning of August. The health department says, in less than three weeks, the number of confirmed cases has increased by five times, reaching at least 2,265 on Friday. The number of deaths has more than doubled in the past eight days to 14.

Authorities are putting in tighter restrictions to control the rising number of coronavirus cases.

New roadblocks were set up Friday in parts of the country’s capital, with some smaller streets closed, while main roads remained open.

Health authorities had already ordered partial lockdowns in 29 of Yangon's 44 townships, including 20 on Thursday.

In a national television address Thursday, Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, urged the public to follow health protocols as the new restrictions take effect, or “we will take action by law.” She said the law is not to punish people but protect society.”