Myanmar police have apprehended and returned to Chinese authorities one of five people from the city of Wuhan, center of the deadly, fast-spreading coronavirus, who slipped across the porous border between the two nations earlier this week.
The only woman in the group tested negative for the virus and was repatriated on Thursday. No information is available regarding what happened to her upon arriving in China. Her compatriots remain at large, according to police in Myanmar.
Her return came a day after police in the border town of Ruili in Yunnan Province notified the chief of police in Myanmar’s Muse District to be on the lookout for four men and a woman “more than likely [carrying] the new coronavirus pneumonia,” according to a letter dated February 5, and obtained by VOA Burmese.
On Friday, a Muse police officer, who did not want to be named, told VOA, “We are still in pursuit of four missing Chinese. … Yesterday, we looked for those five missing Chinese soon after we received notification and found one woman in Muse. After health workers from both our side and Chinese side checked, she was found to be in good health. We handed over her to the Chinese police yesterday.”
Dr. Tin Maung Nyunt, chief of the local public health department, told VOA, “We will inspect the places, wherever those missing Chinese might have stayed in Muse and whoever might have contacted with them will be checked. Our department alerted all health workers to be prepared to follow instructions.”
In their letter, Ruili police requested that Muse police “find out the whereabouts of the five Chinese citizens … as soon as possible, control them in time and inform us of the situation. In the process of searching, pay attention to self-protection to avoid virus infection.”
The two jurisdictions often coordinate as members of the China-Myanmar Joint Anti-Trafficking task force to combat what Human Rights Watch calls the “booming business” of transporting “hundreds of women and girls from northern Myanmar to China and sell them to Chinese families struggling to find brides for their sons due to the country’s gender imbalance.
Ruili police provided their counterparts in Myanmar with detailed information about the five, including photos, ID numbers and addresses.
The men were all frequent visitors to Muse, according to Ruili police, who told Muse police the woman had “visited Ruili Kaunglar jetty recently.”
Dr. Khin Khin Gyi, deputy director of Myanmar’s (Central) Contagious Disease Prevention and Eradication Sub-Department, told VOA there are two suspected coronavirus cases and four people being monitored. All are being tended to according to WHO guidelines, she said.