Myanmar’s former dictator Than Shwe and his wife tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, several days after being admitted to a military hospital in Naypyitaw, a senior military official told The Irrawaddy.
They were admitted to the hospital as a precaution amid the country’s raging COVID-19 outbreak.
“They both are confirmed as coronavirus-positive but they are in good health,” the official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.
Than Shwe is 88 and his wife Daw Kyaing Khaing is 89.
The pair—who are believed to have received their inoculations, as the country’s vaccine program prioritizes anyone over 65—entered the hospital to ensure they had good access to medical care should they be infected with the virus.
The couple has now been at the 1,000-bed military-owned medical facility in Thaik Chaung in the capital “for three or four days,” the source said.
“They are at the hospital lest they should contract COVID at home, as [some] vaccinated people have become infected,” the official added.
Myanmar has been reeling from a deadly third wave of the coronavirus since late June. Six thousand people were killed by COVID-19 last month alone, the deadliest month since the virus hit the Southeast Asian county last year.
Than Shwe ruled Myanmar with an iron fist at the head of the previous military regime from 1992 to 2011, when he transferred power to a military-proxy civilian government handpicked by him.
During his reign, his regime brutally cracked down on dissidents, not to mention jailing his political opponents, including the country’s popular leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who endured long spells of periodic house arrest for many years until 2010.
Myanmar is now under military rule again—after five years of fledgling democracy led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from 2016 to January 2021—as Than Shwe’s successor as military chief, Min Aung Hlaing, staged a coup in February. Since the takeover, the country has been in social and political turmoil as military rule has been strenuously opposed by the majority of the population.
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