More than 100 cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant have been recorded in Myanmar since late December, according to the junta-controlled Ministry of Health.
Four citizens who returned from Dubai tested positive with Omicron on Dec. 28 and 114 more cases were recorded by Thursday, the regime said.
Dr. Than Soe Naing of the ministry’s health promotion department told The Irrawaddy: “Most of the cases were imported. It is very unlikely that it will spread domestically. Only two family members [of a returnee] have the virus. It is very unlikely they transmitted it to others. The situation is under control.”
Omicron infections were mostly in returning citizens and a few foreigners who arrived from Malaysia, India, the UAE, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore plus two family members of an infected returnee, he said.
“There have been widespread Omicron infections internationally. But in Myanmar, most of the cases detected are the Delta variant. We can’t underestimate [its impact] but severe illness and increased hospitalization is mostly reported with Delta infections,” said Dr. Than Soe Naing.
He dismissed social media reports that over 100 trainees at the Central Institute of the Civil Service in Phaunggyi, Yangon, were infected with Omicron.
He told The Irrawaddy that there was no Omicron outbreak at the training school but 45 trainees had tested positive for Delta.
A charity worker in Mandalay said: “There have been patients who struggle breathing with low-blood oxygen levels. Patients have died of coronavirus but the deaths and hospital cases are lower than in June to September last year. We are sending at least seven to eight patients to hospital a day.”
No Omicron cases have been reported in Mandalay and passengers are being tested at the airport and bus terminals in Mandalay although infection rates have fallen since last year, according to the junta.
A charity worker from Pyigyitagon Township in Mandalay said: “We have worked tirelessly. Should Omicron lead to another health emergency in Myanmar, we are prepared to face it.”
The regime’s health ministry said 533,604 cases of COVID-19 were recorded between March 2020 and Wednesday, with 19,306 deaths and 511,630 recoveries. COVID-19 cases are still being reported daily and the infection rate is estimated at around 1.5 percent.
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