Myanmar & COVID-19

Latest COVID-19 Developments in Myanmar: April 1, 2020

By The Irrawaddy 1 April 2020

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi takes to Facebook to connect with people effectively in the time of coronavirus.

– By Nyein Nyein

To connect with the Myanmar public effectively amid the fight against coronavirus, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she would start using Facebook, the dominant social media platform in Myanmar.

Her first post in Burmese on Wednesday said she “did not intend to use Facebook but now [I] will use this to be able to communicate quickly and effectively with the people regarding COVID-19 challenges.”

It’s not yet clear whether she will personally manage the page or not. As there was a misspelled “CORVID-19” in the post, which was later corrected, management of the page may be someone else’s responsibility.

On Wednesday, State Counselor Office Director General U Zaw Htay shared Aung San Suu Kyi’s page on his Facebook, saying “This is the State Counsellor’s official Facebook Account, created in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to the Aung San Suu Kyi page, it was created in April 2016 and she posted her first profile picture on Tuesday evening.

Myanmar so far has 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including one patient who was suffering from nasal cancer and died on Tuesday.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has addressed the public three times since March 16, days before Myanmar confirmed its first cases of coronavirus, to discuss her government’s efforts in the fight against the pandemic.

Myanmar President Office dispels rumor that president and State Counsellor are in self-quarantine.

– By Htet Naing Zaw

President U Win Myint (second from left) and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) at a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Myanmar and China as well as the launching of Myanmar-China Bilateral Cultural and Tourism Year in Naypyitaw on January 17. / Myanmar President Office

Myanmar President Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay dismissed rumors on social media that the president and State Counsellor have been self-quarantining, as they have not been seen in public for a while.

U Zaw Htay said on Tuesday that both President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi are in good health and serving their duties to the state amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“They are in good health and they are in neither self-quarantine nor home quarantine,” he said.

But he added, as COVID-19 is spreading in Myanmar, the country’s leaders are cautious about receiving guests and meeting with diplomats.

U Zaw Htay said the State Counsellor did not meet with the UN staff member who tested positive for COVID-19, now receiving treatment at Naypyitaw’s 1,000-bed hospital. The State Counsellor did meet with UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Ola Almgren on March 23.

Since Myanmar confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 23, the State Counsellor has addressed the nation three times, most recently on Tuesday evening. The president has not appeared in public since early last month.

A couple in Myanmar’s Mandalay Region have been charged for refusing to have their temperature checked.

– By Zaw Zaw Htwe

Mogoke’s health team checking temperatures at a town entrance. / Hein Htet Maung

Yangon – A couple from Mogoke Township, Mandalay Region, have been sued after they refused a temperature check for COVID-19 at a checkpoint when returning from Mandalay.

Mogok’s parliamentarian, U Saw Thaung Tin, told The Irrawaddy the couple were driving back from Mandalay on Monday when they failed to cooperate with the health team.

A video on social media showed the woman trying to punch and kick a member of the health team and the man behaving in a threatening manner.

On Tuesday, the Kyatpyin village head filed lawsuits against them under Section 294 of the Penal Code for obscenity towards the team and under Section 353 for assaulting public servants performing their duty.

They were both granted bail.

They could both face around two years in prison if convicted.

Mogok Township is carrying out coronavirus medical checks at four entrances to the town and sending returnees from overseas to quarantine centers for 14 days.

Around 200 returnees have been quarantined at makeshift centers, according to U Saw Thaung Tin.

Yangon’s Inya Lake Hotel placed under quarantine after an employee from an international clinic there tests postive.

– By Aung Thiha

Police guard the entrance of the Inya Lake Hotel on Tuesday night after the hotel compound was placed under quarantine. / Htet Wai / The Irrawaddy

The Inya Lake Hotel compound, which houses the International SOS Clinic in Yangon’s Mayangone Township, has been placed under quarantine since Tuesday evening after a woman who works at the clinic tested positive for COVID-19.

The 45-year-old woman lives in Bahan Township and works at the clinic, which provides healthcare services, mostly to the city’s expatriate community and embassy circles. As the SOS Clinic is inside the Inya Lake Hotel compound, a lockdown is being implemented, according to U Yan Shin, a regional parliamentarian representing the Mayangone Township constituency.

The woman was admitted to West Yangon General Hospital on March 30 after suffering a sore throat, fever and cough for three days. She was transferred to Weibagi Specialist Hospital on Tuesday.

The International SOS Clinic in Yangon announced on Tuesday night that a person connected to the clinic had tested postive for COVID-19 and that the clinic “will be closed for an undetermined period” at the request of Myanmar authorities. It said it would fully cooperate with the Ministry of Health and Sports.

According to its website, SOS operates in more than 1,000 locations in 90 countries, catering to multinationals, governments and NGO staff.

During the shutdown, the clinic said it will continue to provide services through tele-consultations.

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