Detained Myanmar Doctors Catch COVID-19 in Custody

By The Irrawaddy 20 August 2021

Two detained Mandalay doctors, who treated those wounded in junta crackdowns on protesters and COVID-19 patients, have been infected with coronavirus while in custody.

Dr. Kyaw Kyaw Thet and Dr. Thet Htay were taken to the Mandalay Palace military base for interrogation more than a month ago.

The pair were beaten when seized on July 13 and 16 respectively after allegedly taking part in the civil disobedience movement against military rule and for assisting the National Unity Government (NUG), said a Mandalay doctor who is close to the families.

Dr. Kyaw Kyaw Thet was teaching medical students online and providing online medical consultations for COVID-19 patients until his arrest. He was detained at his home. According to his cousin, who was taken away with him and later freed, the doctor was beaten during interrogation.

Dr. Thet Htay, a well-known surgeon in Mandalay who worked at a charity clinic and in a hospital, was detained on July 16 on his way home from the hospital. He had been active in treating civilians injured in the junta’s crackdowns on protesters.

Later that day, he was seen with a battered face being taken to a temporary clinic where his belongings were confiscated.

No further information was heard about the two until this week, leaving families and friends anxious about their conditions after their violent detentions.

“We were told they are in quarantine at the Mandalay Palace as they caught COVID-19 and they will be relocated to Obo Prison next week,” said the Mandalay doctor.

The junta has detained at least 190 health care workers since the Feb. 1 coup. Despite the country’s worst surge of COVID-19 during the past two months, the junta continues to detain medical staff. Volunteers and doctors, who are helping COVID-19 patients independently, are increasingly being arrested while the regime urges them to join junta moves to curb the pandemic.

Dr. Maung Maung Nyein Tun, a 45-year-old surgical lecturer from Mandalay detained by the regime in June, has died of COVID-19. He reportedly did not receive timely treatment after being infected while in detention.

“They were only infected because they were arrested by the junta. They are highly aware of preventive measures and would be able to stay safe from infections as doctors and instead could help cure COVID-19 patients,” the Mandalay doctor added.

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