Myanmar’s former dictator Than Shwe and his wife were admitted to a military hospital in Naypyitaw several days ago as a precaution amid the country’s raging COVID-19 outbreak, according to a senior military official.
The pair—who are reportedly in good health and are believed to have received their inoculations, as the country’s vaccine program prioritizes anyone over 65—entered the hospital “to have close medical attention in case they have been infected with COVID-19,” the military official said.
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, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.
Nasal swabs had been taken from both to check for the coronavirus and they are awaiting test results, the official said.
“They are at the hospital lest they should contract COVID at home, as [some] vaccinated people have become infected,” the official added.
Than Shwe is 88 years old. His wife Daw Kyaing Kyaing is probably a similar age, or at least in her late 70s.
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.
For the time being, The Irrawaddy has learned, the health of Myanmar’s ex-supremo and his wife is still good.
“The old man is still alive and kicking, apart from his knee pain,” the source said.
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 seriously opposed by the majority of the population.
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