THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN RANGOON IS TRANSMITTING THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION THROUGH THE EMBASSY WARDEN SYSTEM AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO U.S. CITIZENS IN MYANMAR. PLEASE DISSEMINATE THIS MESSAGE TO ALL U.S. CITIZENS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION OR NEIGHBORHOOD.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern for the novel coronavirus outbreak on January 30. Starting February 2, the U.S. government instituted new travel restrictions for arrivals from China including quarantine of individuals during the 14-day incubation period after departure. Read more about these travel restrictions here.
The Embassy is closely following the developments of this outbreak and will continue to share information with U.S. citizens in Myanmar. The Embassy follows the recommendations of the WHO and U.S. CDC regarding prevention, diagnosis, isolation and treatment for all infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus. Our specific guidance adheres to evidence-based, scientific recommendations.
There are currently no vaccines available to protect against human coronavirus infection. You may be able to reduce your risk of infection by doing the following:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Standard recommendations to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses include maintaining basic hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices and avoiding close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
You may notice that neither of these recommendations include wearing a surgical mask. It is very common for people to wear surgical masks in the belief that it prevents them from getting respiratory infections. During the current coronavirus outbreak some governments have begun requiring people to wear masks while they are in public. This gives the impression that there is evidence that a facemask protects you from respiratory infections. Unfortunately, the science tells us otherwise. Wearing a surgical mask may diminish the chances of an infected person spreading their infection to others but does not stop you from inhaling the small droplets that transmit influenza, most coronaviruses and other respiratory pathogens, they easily come in around the mask when you inhale.
WHO and the U.S. government do not recommend that people routinely wear surgical masks. If someone is sick, especially if they are sneezing or coughing, they should wear a mask to diminish their chances for infecting others.
- Adhere to the evidence-based recommendations of the U.S. CDC and WHO:
- Practice good “respiratory hygiene” by coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after you’ve been out in public places, or through the application of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes and face prior to washing your hands. Rubbing your eyes or nose can move an infectious agent from your hand to these vulnerable areas for respiratory infections.
- Avoid people who are ill with cough, sneezing, runny nose, etc. and try to avoid getting closer than two meters (six feet) if you must be in the same space with an ill person.
- If you have cough and fever and are concerned that you may have coronavirus infection, call ahead to your medical provider for recommendations so they can prepare for your visit and minimize exposure to others. This will usually mean placing a mask on the sick person and taking them directly into an area for medical examination without sitting in a waiting area with others.
We will continue to share updates with the U.S. citizen community as the situation develops.