Hundreds of Students, Staff at Myanmar Private School Test COVID-19 Positive

By The Irrawaddy 15 June 2021

Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon saw a spike in its COVID-19 count on Sunday after a large cluster of cases were reported at a Buddhist monk-run private high school in Hlegu Township.

On Sunday, Myanmar reported 373 new cases of COVID-19 across the country, the largest daily jump in cases since the Feb. 1 coup.

Of the new cases, Yangon Region accounted for 226, making it the hardest-hit region in the country. Of those, 211 cases were found at the Mahawthahta Private High School.

The school, founded by well-known Buddhist monk Ahshin Pyinnyar Wara, opened in Ngwe Nathar Village in Hlegu in June 2016.

It provided free education and accommodation to more than 500 students yearly through 2020, according to the school. After facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school started providing education to students on a co-payment basis this year.

Mahawthahta Private High School opened its doors for the new school year in June when the regime reopened schools nationwide. According to a Hlegu-based news page, the school is now in lockdown following the detection of the COVID-19 cases.

The Irrawaddy couldn’t reach a spokesperson for the school on Tuesday, however.

On June 7, the military regime closed schools in Tamu and Kale townships in Sagaing Region and in five townships in Chin State—Tonzang, Hakha, Thantlang, Falam and Tedim—after the areas saw spikes in COVID-19 cases.

Over the past two weeks, Yangon had been the third hardest-hit area for COVID-19 in Myanmar, reporting between five and 37 cases each day.

In that period, hardest hit-Sagaing Region reported 15 to around 80 cases a day and second-hardest-hit Chin State reported 11 to around 60 a day, according to daily COVID-19 records released by the military-controlled Ministry of Health and Sports.

The cluster at Mahawthahta Private High School was detected after a female student who reported losing her sense of smell—one of the symptoms of COVID-19—tested positive last Thursday.

A teacher at the school died of COVID-19 while being treated at the Hlaing Tharyar Hospital in Yangon on June 10.

Dr. Daw Khin Khin Gyi, the director of the Health Ministry’s Emerging Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, said on her Facebook page on Monday that a total of 246 out of 456 students, teachers and staff of the private school have tested positive for COVID-19.

Currently, the 246 COVID-19 patients are in isolation at the school and are being treated there.

Dr. Khin Khin Gyi said those patients who start experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will be sent to Phaunggyi Makeshift COVID-19 Center, Hlegu Hospital and Hlaing Tharyar Hospital.

On Monday, Myanmar reported 223 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths.

As of Monday, Myanmar had reported a total of 145,826 COVID-19 cases including 3,248 deaths and 132,969 recoveries.

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