YANGON, Myanmar

Private media houses in Myanmar are suspending production of newspapers after the country’s commercial hub Yangon was placed under partial lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Authorities imposed stricter stay-at-home orders from Monday in Yangon – the country’s largest city, forcing employees of nearly all private businesses, including journalists, to work from home.

With all private national newspapers based in the city, the new restrictions have had a serious impact on Myanmar’s media industry.

Four national newspapers – Standard Times, 7 Day Daily, the Myanmar Times, and the Voice Daily – have decided to suspend circulation of their print editions from Wednesday.

“The suspension was inevitable because we can’t put our journalists in danger while the whole region is under partial lockdown,” an editor of one of the newspapers told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

“Apart from the risk of being infected, we are also wary of the possible penalty for breaching the lockdown measures,” said the editor, requesting anonymity due to fear of reprisal.

He clarified that journalists will keep working from home and news will continue to be published online.

State-owned newspapers, however, will keep publishing their print editions.

For nearly five months, from late March to late August, Myanmar seemed to have controlled the COVID-19 outbreak, with just about 400 confirmed cases and six deaths across the country.

However, a second wave since late August has increased Myanmar’s case count by more than 6,000, with fatalities also rising by the day.

As of Tuesday, Myanmar has registered a total of 6,571 coronavirus cases, including 100 deaths.

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