Civil Servants Among COVID-19 Patients as Cases Spread Through Myanmar Capital

By Thiha Lwin 15 September 2020

Naypyitaw — Myanmar’s capital has reported over 40 COVID-19 cases, with civil servants and their relatives accounting for half of the infections, according to its public health department.

Officials at the President’s Office, State Counselor’s Office, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and Ministry of Information and their relatives have tested positive for coronavirus.

“Civil servants and their relatives account for around half of the cases. Most of them tested positive while in quarantine,” deputy director-general at Naypyitaw Health Department, Dr. Myat Wunna Soe, told The Irrawaddy.

Those who had direct contact with the infected people are being kept in hospital quarantine, while other staff are being told to isolate at home.

An anesthesiologist, a physician and lab technician at a public hospital in Naypyitaw have contracted coronavirus, and health workers who had contact with them have been quarantined, according to Dr. Myat Wunna Soe.

A State Counselor’s Office staff member tested positive on Friday. He is the personal staff officer (PSO) to U Khin Maung Tin, the deputy minister at the State Counselor’s Office, but the deputy minister himself tested negative, said U Zaw Htay, the director-general of the President’s Office.

He told reporters on Monday that the deputy minister is in quarantine at a hotel and will be tested again within days. The PSO had close contact with the President’s Office assistant director, who tested positive on Sept. 9.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases have been reported at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center and the office of the military-appointed Vice-President Myint Swe.

Travel into the capital has been restricted since Sept. 2, following a spike in COVID-19 cases but the numbers keep increasing.

Dr. Myat Wunna Soe said: “As Naypyitaw houses departments that engage with the whole country, there is much contact. Infected people from other areas come to Naypyitaw, leading to further infections.”

Ministries are working in shifts to ensure physical distancing with restrictions on staff in their offices and during their leisure time. None of Naypyitaw’s eight townships are under lockdown.

When COVID-19 was first reported in Myanmar in March, a 58-year-old Swiss woman, who works for the United Nations, was the first COVID-19 patient in the capital. And the other few who were infected were military personnel who returned from foreign studies.

Despite travel restrictions in Naypyitaw, restaurants and teashops are still allowed to operate.

As of Tuesday morning, Myanmar has reported 3,299 COVID-19 confirmed cases with 32 deaths.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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