About 20 IDPs Test Positive for COVID-19 in Camp in Myanmar’s Karen State

By The Irrawaddy 24 February 2022

Around 20 internally displaced people (IDPs) sheltering in a camp in Karen State’s Lay Kay Kaw have tested positive for the coronavirus since last Thursday, according to aid groups, who added that it is difficult to place them in isolation due to the packed conditions in the camp.

The IDPs have been taking shelter in the camp for more than two months, since fighting broke out in mid-December between Myanmar junta troops and allied forces of the Karen National Liberation Army and the People Defense Force. They have been unable to return to their homes, particularly since intense fighting resumed in the area on Feb. 16-21.

More than 550 IDPs in the camp have been tested for coronavirus since Feb. 17, after two people suffering from a cough and runny nose tested positive.

“We have all been tested. [Those who tested positive have] neither severe symptoms nor low oxygen levels,” said a camp committee member.

The committee member said the camp was in need of an isolation ward for infected patients. “We have set up a [makeshift] isolation area using tarpaulin, but as the weather is getting hot, we need a proper isolation ward. We want to give them proper care.”

Among those infected is a 5-year-old child; most are in their 40s. For the time being, they have been placed in makeshift huts and their health is being monitored daily, said a medic who works in the Karen National Union-controlled area.

“Their symptoms vary. Most of the patients are suffering from high fever, aches and a sore throat, which are common symptoms of the Omicron variant. Others who tested positive only feel weak. We have isolated them,” he said.

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