June 19, 2020 / 11:57 AM / a month ago

Myanmar buses get private pods to lower coronavirus risk

YANGON (Reuters) - A travel company in Myanmar has modified a dozen of its long-distance buses to make private pods for passengers in a bid to ease fears about coronavirus infection.

JJ Express has built mini cabins with aluminum panels and a door around single seats either side of a central aisle, cutting the capacity of each bus by half.

The company said it had also overhauled the air conditioning system and installed disinfection filters.

“We realize that the change in travel norms is inevitable,” company manager Kyawt Kyawt Thet said.

“As a result, we believe that we will gain trust from the customers and we will be able to sustain it well in the future.”

The company said it had retrofitted 12 of its 50 interstate buses, and may modify more if there is demand.

Passengers now pay about $20 for each journey, 20% higher than the standard bus.

“We didn’t dare travel during the COVID-19. We didn’t feel safe when two people sat close to each other on the twin seat,” said one customer, Ko Kai, who regularly makes the 10-hour, 650 km (400-mile) trip between Yangon and Shan State.

“Now, we feel safer sitting in this private chamber, it’s much more comfortable,” he added, speaking through a mask.

Myanmar has confirmed 286 coronavirus cases and six deaths. On Friday it reported 23 new infections, all found in quarantine among deportees from Thailand.

Reporting by Zaw Naing Oo; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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