Myanmar Junta Says it Can’t Cope With Rising COVID-19 Cases

By The Irrawaddy 14 July 2021

The State Administrative Council (SAC), as the military regime describes itself, has admitted that it is not able to handle the increasing number of COVID-19 infections or provide security for military-appointed administrators.

With Myanmar in the grip of the third wave of coronavirus and fatalities spiking, hospitals in Yangon and other parts of the country are struggling to take care of COVID-19 patients, so forcing people to treat themselves at home.

“We admit the current situation. Hospitals and clinics are full. Quarantine centers are full. And they can accept no more patients. The Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) is accepting patients [for hospitalization] depending on the severity of the patients’ illnesses,” said Major General Zaw Min Tun, the junta’s spokesperson, during a press conference on Monday.

4,047 new COVID-19 cases and 109 deaths were recorded on Tuesday, while just 11,686 tests were carried out, according to the junta-controlled MOHS.

People are faced with serious shortages of medical oxygen and the military regime is now preventing private oxygen suppliers from selling oxygen to individuals.

“We have restricted some private suppliers regarding oxygen supplies. We have asked them to supply hospitals and clinics and not individuals,” said Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun.

The SAC has decided to impose restrictions because some people are hoarding oxygen for later use, said the military spokesperson, adding that military-run oxygen plants are also providing oxygen for COVID-19 patients.

The MOHS has said that oxygen therapy should be administered only under the instruction of qualified health professionals, and has warned that the hoarding of medical oxygen will seriously affect those in urgent need of it.

Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun said the SAC is preparing to take care of 3,800 COVID-19 patients at military hospitals in 14 locations and another 21,000 more at military bases. The MOHS has also made preparations to treat 4,000 patients in six COVID-19 centers in Yangon, as well as at a number of Yangon hospitals.

The military spokesman also admitted that the SAC had been unable to fully protect its administrators and alleged military informants. There have been frequent fatal shootings of military-appointed administrators and alleged military informants in Yangon and other cities over the past few months.

“I would like to request administrators and others who have reason to believe that they will be attacked to inform those who they can rely on if they are to travel. Some administrators have asked for our help due to security concerns, but we can’t help in every case. But I urge them to inform the concerned authorities if they have to travel,” said the military spokesman.

In response to the attacks, the SAC is forming non-armed groups in wards and villages to facilitate security. So far, some 45 percent of the country has been covered by these groups, said Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun.

“They are not armed groups. They are tasked with providing information to prevent violence. The greater the public participation, the more this security system will be successful,” he said.

People’s defense forces formed by anti-regime resistance fighters are currently targeting military-appointed administrators and alleged military informants, while pro-military vigilante groups called Pyu Saw Htee are targeting members of the National League for Democracy.

906 people were killed by the junta from Feb. 1 to July 13, and 5,239 people remain in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

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