Myanmar newspapers and magazines will close this week, a newspaper source said on Friday, a day after President Aung San Suu Kyi called for them to be closed.
Mandalay News, a small daily newspaper owned by the ruling Democratic Alliance, is the first to close.
Its circulation is estimated at 100,000 to 150,000.
The decision comes a day before the deadline for all media owners to close their outlets, a move that will see journalists and other staff lose their jobs and their jobs-related income.
Aung San Sa is the country’s first democratically elected leader and a close ally of the US President Donald Trump, who is currently on a three-day visit to Myanmar.
The government says the decision will protect the country from the spread of the coronavirus.
However, opposition groups say it is unfair to take away media freedoms when it is still being monitored by international organisations.
Last month, the US ambassador to Myanmar, John Prendergast, urged the government to take “strong measures” to protect the press.
A few weeks ago, the government also warned it would shut down the news portal Myint.
The move comes as Myanmar struggles to cope with a wave of new cases, with the latest death toll reaching nearly 2,000 on Thursday.
The BBC’s Karen Brown in Yangon says the government has warned it will be shut down if the number of new infections rises.
The country’s biggest daily newspaper, The Nation, which is run by the countrys oldest newspaper, the Jaffna, is also expected to close, the newspaper said.
The newspaper, which has been published since the 1980s, is run as a non-profit, so its finances cannot be touched by the government.
Its editorial board is largely made up of journalists.
The paper was among the first outlets to publish a major anti-government editorial in April, calling for Suu KYi to step down.
The editor, Yee Fung Soe, was one of the few who dared to challenge the president.
He said in an editorial published at the time that Suu was the only candidate who could end the crisis in the country, and that the country needed a change in leadership.
But his remarks were ridiculed by others, who branded him a traitor for having dared to say such things.
The Jaffnapapet newspaper, also run by a family owned newspaper, has also announced that it will close in January.
The Myanmar Times, a daily newspaper which is owned by a political party, is expected to remain open, although its circulation is expected have fallen to less than 10,000, its editor told AFP news agency.
“Our newspapers are not able to function,” said editor-in-chief Baw Tha Tun.
“We need to be able to operate our business in a safe and secure manner.”
The government has also been targeting media outlets owned by other parties, including the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), which has threatened to shut down media outlets if the government did not close them.NLD has warned that it could close media outlets that publish content critical of the government and its supporters if they do not adhere to a strict code of ethics.