‘Not fearful of the virus’, Myanmar taxi driver’s pilgrimage to a sacred pagoda

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© Reuters.

By Zaw Naing Oo

YANGON (Reuters) – Defying the specter of contracting coronavirus and a citywide lockdown, Myanmar taxi driver Ko Naing, 50, nonetheless travels every day to wish exterior the sacred Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the nation’s holiest Buddhist web site.

“I’m not fearful of the virus as a result of I really feel protected by my faith and common praying on the pagoda,” he instructed Reuters, kneeling on the entrance gate of the pagoda.

The variety of COVID-19 infections in Myanmar, which has one of many world’s weakest well being techniques, has surged from just a few hundred in mid-August to greater than 27,000 instances and 646 deaths as of Monday.

The nation of 53 million folks has locked down its greatest metropolis, Yangon, and imposed a broad stay-at-home order throughout the entire metropolis to cease the virus from spreading.

The glittering Shwedagon pagoda, which has forged its golden mild over town for hundreds of years, shut its doorways in April for the primary time in recorded historical past, disrupting a protracted custom of normal pilgrimages by devotees.

But whereas many are making do with broadcasts by the pagoda’s monks on Fb (NASDAQ:), Ko Naing rises at daybreak every morning to face exterior its locked gates, lighting incense sticks and risking penalties for breaching the COVID lockdown.

“Different folks get in bother however I don’t. Why? As a result of I imagine in my faith and Buddha,’ he mentioned.

The Southeast Asian nation is housing greater than 45,000 folks, together with COVID-19 sufferers in addition to these but to be examined, their shut contacts and returning migrant employees, in buildings from colleges and monasteries to authorities places of work and tower blocks, principally run by volunteers.

The nation’s chief Aung San Suu Kyi has known as on the general public to assist fight the virus.

Suu Kyi has additionally mentioned Myanmar’s normal election, due on Nov. 8, should go forward and is “extra vital than COVID”.

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