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Myanmar rebels lock down town on China border as Covid spikes

By AFP
11 November 2021   |   12:14 pm
A Myanmar ethnic rebel group has locked down a town on the porous China border following a Covid-19 spike, it said Thursday, as Beijing battles a Delta-driven outbreak that has spread across the country.

Soldiers of Kachin Independence Army (KIA) man their position at the front line near Mai Ja Yang in Kachin state January 22, 2013. Fierce fighting continues to rage between the KIA and Myanmar’s military, despite ceasefire orders by reformist President Thein Sein to troops not to attack the KIA or try to seize its headquarters in Laiza. The United States has expressed serious concern about the unrest and the welfare of civilians and Thein Sein insists his government wants peace talks with the KIA. The conflict resurfaced in June 2011, ending a 17-year truce, but the fighting has escalated significantly in the past two months. Picture taken January 22, 2013. REUTERS/Kaung Htet (MYANMAR – Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY POLITICS)

A Myanmar ethnic rebel group has locked down a town on the porous China border following a Covid-19 spike, it said Thursday, as Beijing battles a Delta-driven outbreak that has spread across the country.

Almost 2,000 cases had been detected in the town of Laiza, said a spokesman for the (KIA), a rebel group that controls swathes of territory bordering China’s Yunnan province.

The KIA has imposed a lockdown on the remote town of about 20,000 people since November 2 to contain the outbreak, Colonel Hein Wawm told AFP.

People are not allowed to enter or leave the town and residents have been ordered to stay home unless buying food.

Most of the cases were detected in a school, the spokesman said, adding that the group was working to arrange supplies of food to the town.

A surge in cases in Myanmar in June and July spooked authorities on the other side of its 2,000-kilometre frontier with China, where officials are waging a “zero-case” war on Covid-19.

Beijing closed border crossings and increased patrols to prevent a feared influx of Myanmar refugees fleeing post-coup violence.

During the virus wave the KIA inoculated 10,000 people at their Laiza headquarters with Chinese jabs, a spokesman previously told AFP.

China — the Myanmar junta’s main ally — has sent millions of vaccines doses to the military government. Beijing has refused to describe the army’s February ouster of a civilian administration as a coup.

Daily infections in the Southeast Asian country of 54 million are falling, according to figures published by state media, which reported 1,180 new cases and 14 deaths on Wednesday.