By Kyaw Ye Lynn
YANGON, Myanmar (AA) - Myanmar will ban all international passenger flights into its airports beginning Monday as part of the country’s efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
Civil aviation authority on Sunday said no international commercial passenger flights will be allowed to land in Myanmar for next two weeks, until April 31.
The Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement that it also suspends all landing permissions it previously granted.
The measure will not apply to relief, cargo, medical evacuation flights as well as specially-approved flights, it added.
The move came shortly after Myanmar suspended issuing all kinds of entry visas till the end of April except to diplomats, UN officials and crews of ships and aircraft operating to and from Myanmar.
The first cases of the virus known as COVID-19 were reported March 23, making Myanmar one of the last nations to declare the presence of the virus.
Myanmar began banning foreign nationals entering through land border gates since the first cases were reported Monday.
Eight people -- seven of them with recent travel history to Europe and the U.S. -- tested positive for coronavirus as of March 29.
Tens of thousands of its migrant workers from neighboring countries, however, continue to arrive.
Myanmar government is facing public criticism for its slow response to deal with the massive influx of returnees.
Health authorities have been on high alert after the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic, health workers, however, have expressed concern at poor health infrastructure in the country.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China, in December, the virus has spread to at least 177 countries and territories, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Data shows more than 681,700 cases have been reported worldwide with the death toll above 31,800 and nearly 145,600 recoveries.