Coronavirus policy response needs and options for Myanmar

Coronavirus is now confirmed to be present in Myanmar, and the actual number of infections is likely to be considerably higher than just the small number of cases (five as of March 27th, 2020) confirmed so far. Within hours of the presence of coronavirus being confirmed in Myanmar, some residents in Yangon were engaging in panic-buying, a small indication of some of the significant social and economic problems that could result from the spread of coronavirus.

There is a need for continued and regular public messaging from the Government of Myanmar (GoM) to try and calm the population and convince people not to panic. The high degree of respect and moral authority that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has makes her the ideal person to convey such a message and convince people to remain calm. Further, the GoM needs to make a quick decision, based on the best available evidence, on what its overall strategy should be in response to coronavirus, and then to clearly communicate this to the public. The strategy will need to be iteratively adapted, and the clear public communication of these changes is also vital.