Myanmar's Suu Kyi pulls out of first election trip over coronavirus

  • World
  • Monday, 07 Sep 2020

FILE PHOTO: Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech to the nation regarding the Rakhine and Rohingya situation, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi pulled out of the first event of her election campaign on Monday, citing a worsening outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country.

The Southeast Asian nation reported 100 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the biggest daily increase since detecting its first infection in March, followed by 45 more on Monday.

Suu Kyi, who rules as state counselor, was set to tour the constituency where she is seeking re-election in the commercial capital of Yangon on Tuesday, the first official day of campaigning ahead of polls set for Nov. 8.

But she said in a live broadcast on Facebook that the health minister had advised her to cancel the trip.

“At the moment the ministry of health is the most powerful. We must follow the instructions of the ministry,” she said.

Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for the ruling National League for Democracy, said that campaigning would go ahead and that the party planned to go door-to-door distributing flags and pamphlets in small groups.

“However, given the current health situation, we won’t be able to do much of the speech campaigns,” he told Reuters by phone.

Myanmar had gone weeks without a local coronavirus transmission until mid-August, when authorities reported an outbreak in the western state of Rakhine.

Since then, the number of cases has more than doubled to 1,464 infections and eight deaths.

Last week, a member of the staff at Suu Kyi’s lakeside home in Yangon tested positive for the virus. She said on Monday she felt bad to hear about the infection.

Doctors say they fear a major outbreak in a country with a health system weakened after decades of neglect under the former ruling military junta.

(Writing by Poppy McPherson; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Hugh Lawson)

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