Photo: UNDP Myanmar

Shan State, covering the largest administrative area in Myanmar, borders with China, Laos and Thailand from northeast to east to south respectively. For decades, the state has been a point of transit as people travelled back and forth to and from neighboring countries for work and business purposes.

The pandemic saw thousands of Myanmar nationals returning through the border check points in Shan as economies slowed down in the neighboring countries. This significantly elevated the risk levels of COVID-19 infection in the state . The state government has put in place 372 quarantine facilities with more than 1030 persons under observation as of 27 July 2020.

Also, the government is also undertaking public awareness raising campaign to disseminate information to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

UNDP is supporting the State Government in an eight-week long awareness raising campaign , beginning in the last week of June. The awareness raising campaign is being conducted across eight townships – Taunggyi, Kalaw, Loilen, Hsihseng , Keng Teng, Tachileik, Kyaukme and Muse. UNDP assisted the government in the selection of townships and target beneficiaries. “We have selected townships with huge numbers of returning migrant workers, numerous busy public places such as markets, restaurants and schools. We intend to reach a wide variety of citizens as much as possible, such as housewives, students and their parents, teachers, as well as average citizens in the street,” said U Soe Naing, Director of the Department of Disaster Management, Shan State.

The campaign restarts in the last week of August and the first week of September. Ko Aung Linn, UNDP’s area coordinator for Shan State, said, “The second part of the campaign will begin in the last week of August, stretching into the first week of September. This time we are going to focus on public schools . We plan to campaign in nearly 60 middle and primary schools in the selected townships. By the end of the campaign, we will have conducted awareness raising sessions in 136 public places.”

In all, the campaign would cover 24 markets and 88 public schools as well as 24 restaurants, distributing face masks, hygiene supplies, and information materials on COVID-19. Together with UNDP , UNICEF and local civil society organizations are also supporting the campaign which, as of now, is set to reach almost 50,000 people in eight townships.

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