Myanmar’s Fifth COVID-19 Lab to Operate in Shan State From July

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 10 June 2020

Yangon – Myanmar’s fifth COVID-19 laboratory is close to opening in the Shan State capital, Taunggyi, and is expected to conduct tests from next month.

The fourth coronavirus lab in Mon State’s capital, Mawlamyine, started conducting COVID-19 tests on June 2.

Dr. Thuzar Chit Tin, the health director of Shan State, told The Irrawaddy that the COVID-19 laboratory was opened at Sao San Htun Hospital in late May.

She said the state government spent approximately 129 million kyats (US$93,000) preparing the lab with machines donated by China

The lab would conduct 200 tests per day for the whole state and neighboring Kayah State, she said.

“Having a lab in the state would allow control programs to be conducted more easily and reduce delays,” said Dr. Thuzar Chit Tin.

Previously swab samples were being sent to Yangon, leading to three-day waits for results and high transport costs.

The health ministry said as of June 8, 3,344 people have been quarantined across Shan State with nine positive COVID-19 tests.

After no transmissions within Myanmar for two weeks, a 30-year-old public health officer in Muse on the Chinese border in northern Shan State tested positive for COVID-19 on June 2. She had no travel history or contact with known COVID-19 patients.

More than 40 people who had contact with her tested negative, according to Dr. Thuzar Chit Tin.

On June 9, a 30-year-old man from Hsi Hseng Township in southern Shan State tested positive for COVID-19 while under quarantine.

The state health team said it was tracing those who had contact with the patient to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Dr. Thuzar Chit Tin said a COVID-19 lab would be opened in Lashio, the biggest city in northern Shan State.

But there are budgetary problems involved with building the lab at a cost of more than 300 million kyats (US$216,000) for machines donated by China.

There are two COVID-19 labs testing civilians in Yangon and one in Mandalay.

As of Monday, Myanmar has brought home 3,356 nationals who are stranded at more than 10 countries, including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, UK and US.

Thousands of migrants from Thailand have returned each day since May 23.

The health ministry said all returnees have been ordered to be quarantined for 21 days at quarantine centers and in home isolation for seven days.

Dr. Than Naing Soe, Myanmar’s health ministry spokesman, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that around 2,000 COVID-19 tests are being completed on returnees each day.

As of Sunday, 48,255 people have been quarantined at quarantine centers across the country, according to the ministry.

It said it had conducted 40,600 COVID-19 tests. There have been 246 COVID-19 cases, six deaths and 159 recoveries recorded by Wednesday morning.

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