Myanmar Hospitals Run Out of Beds Amid COVID-19 Surge

By The Irrawaddy 8 July 2021

Myanmar’s hospitals and COVID-19 centers cannot accept more patients in some areas, including Yangon, as people seek treatment at home, according to activists.

A volunteer at a free ambulance service in Tamwe Township, Yangon, said: “Those affected are in trouble as hospitals and clinics are refusing to treat patients. We take patients from hospital to hospital but there are no beds so we have to take them home.”

Dr. Khin Khin Gyi, the director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit at the junta-controlled Ministry of Health and Sports, posted on Facebook that public hospitals have no beds for patients who arrive of their own accord.

She asked COVID-19 patients to report to health departments in their townships so the authorities can arrange beds.

Depending on their severity, patients will be treated at ordinary quarantine centers, oxygen-equipped quarantine centers and hospitals, she said, warning that patients who stay at home are at a greater risk of dying.

In reality, the authorities are asking patients with mild symptoms to stay at home in Yangon and other cities.

A volunteer from Mandalay said: “As there is a large gap between the numbers of COVID-19 infections and the capacity of care centers, patients with mild symptoms are only given prescriptions and asked to stay at home.”

A volunteer from Pathein in Ayeyarwady Region said: “If a patient’s oxygen level is good and they have no other health problems, the health authorities note down their address and ask them to isolate at home. They can contact the health department in case of emergency if the oxygen level drops. Hospital beds are running out.”

Meanwhile, military hospitals are also short of doctors and medicines and are only providing treatment to personnel and their relatives.

A female COVID-19 patient said: “After enquiring at all the hospitals, I was taken to a military hospital. At first they refused to treat me. One of my relatives has close ties with military officers and I had asked him for help. My condition becomes unstable once I take off my oxygen mask so I keep it on.”

She said her infected husband is also receiving treatment at the military hospital but she has to buy his medicine.

Since late May, Myanmar has seen a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases after the junta relaxed restrictions and allowed pagodas, beaches and other venues to reopen following their closure in April 2020.

Sagaing Region, which borders India, has seen the largest outbreak with over 4,000 cases, followed by Bago Region with over 3,900 cases, Yangon Region with over 3,400 cases, Shan State with over 2,800 cases, Chin State and Mandalay Region with over 2,000 cases each, and Ayeyarwady Region with over 1,700 cases.

Last month, the health ministry announced that the new, more virulent coronavirus strains, including the Delta variant first identified in India, have been detected in Myanmar, warning that this will increase hospital admissions and deaths.

Many COVID-19 patients are staying at home, without seeking treatment at hospitals and COVID-19 centers.

Their main problem is oxygen supplies and some towns are experiencing shortages.

Volunteer groups providing oxygen said they receive daily requests and cannot meet demand.

The number of daily COVID-19 infections exceeded 1,000 on June 28 and on Wednesday the ministry reported a record number of 3,947 cases.

More than 25,000 new infections with 297 deaths have been recorded since late May, the ministry said.

The military regime has imposed stay-at-home orders in 45 townships, Tamu, Kale and Homalin in Sagaing; Tongan, Hakha, Thantlang, Falam and Tedim in Chin; Letpadan, Phyu, Thayawady, Minhla, Taungoo, Bago and Pyay in Bago; Chanmyathazi, Chanayethazan, Pyigyitagon, Maha Aung Myay, Aungmyaythazan, Patheingyi, Amarapura and Pyin Oo Lwin in Mandalay; Lashio and Nawnghkio in Shan State, Laukkai in Kokang Self-Administered Zone; Pathein, Myaungmya and Thabaung in Ayeyarwady; Zabuthiri and Pyinmana in Naypyitaw; Gangaw in Magwe; Mawlamyine and Thanbyuzayat in Mon State; and 10 townships in Yangon.

You may also like these stories:

Two Civilian Fighters Killed in Shootout With Myanmar Junta Troops in Dawei

Norway’s Telenor Sells its Myanmar Telecoms Operation to Regime-Linked Partner

Myanmar Junta Extorting Money From Anti-Coup Detainees