YANGON, Myanmar 

A Myanmar court on Wednesday denied bail to a Christian preacher who has been charged for organizing church services defying the ban imposed in the wake of coronavirus.

David Lah, a Canadian preacher of Burmese origin, was among four people who have been charged under the country’s natural disaster management law that carries prison sentence of up to three years.

Mg Soe, a judge at a township court in the capital Yangon, told reporters that the defendant’s lawyer had applied for bail.

“Courts don’t need to grant bail for the cases that carry prison sentence of three year and above,” he said.

Police in Yangon in April 14 opened criminal cases against four people including David Lah after dozens of COVID-19 cases were found related to the events they held.

David Lah told the worshipers that those who are deeply devoted to Christianity would be protected by Jesus, according to a video clip that went viral on social media.

He, however, got infected with COVID-19 in April and was hospitalized in Yangon until May 7.

He was then quarantined in a hotel in Yangon before police took him to prison.

According to the Health Ministry, the church services led to a cluster of 67 cases in Myanmar which has a total of 233 cases of COVID-19 to date. Six people have died of the virus and 153 have made full recoveries in Myanmar.

Myanmar eased some restrictions related to domestic movements, but extended the ban on foreigners flying into the country until June 15.

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