Myanmar’s New COVID-19 Case Numbers Continue to Rise Sharply

By The Irrawaddy 30 June 2021

Myanmar’s third wave of COVID-19 is reaching new heights this week, with the country reporting 1,312 infections on Tuesday—its highest daily total of new cases since the Feb. 1 coup—just a day after more than 1,200 new cases were announced.

The daily new cases are up from fewer than 200 on June 12. Since June 19, the positive test rate has been between 11 and 18 percent each day.

Junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has admitted that a third wave of COVID-19 is under way in the country, despite the fact that people have been inoculated with vaccines from India, China and Russia.

“The third wave is occurring slowly with an increase in the [positive test] rate to around 10 percent,” he said in an interview with Russia’s RIA media on June 24 during his visit to Moscow. However, he downplayed the scale of the outbreak, insisting the positive rate in Myanmar is not serious in comparison to the international situation.

Swab testing has also increased, with 8,232 tests conducted on Tuesday, an increase from around 1,500 to 2,000 tests per day between February and early June, and from over 3,000 tests a day on June 12.

As of Tuesday, Myanmar had reported a total of 155,697 COVID-19 cases with 3,320 deaths, according to the junta-controlled Health Ministry. Immediate information on Tuesday’s positive test rate and affected areas were unavailable at the time of publication.

On Monday, which also saw a sharp rise in new case numbers, most cases were reported in Bago Region (259), Shan State (205), Sagaing Region (196), Yangon Region (140), Ayeyarwady Region (100) and Chin State (83).

Bago’s Letpadan and Shan State’s Laukkai, two townships under stay-at-home orders, reported 87 and 82 new cases respectively, among the highest daily spikes.

The ministry has imposed stay-at-home orders on 11 townships: Tamu and Kale in Sagaing Region; Tonzang, Hakha, Tedim, Falam and Thantlang in Chin State; Bago Region’s Letpadan and Phyu; and Lashio and Laukkai in northern Shan State.

The regime has purchased 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Russia and plans to buy another 7 million doses.

The military chief said, “India has temporarily suspended selling COVID-19 vaccines as they have their own domestic hurdles. In the meantime, we have received COVID-19 vaccines produced by Russia and we have started using them. We have talked about buying more vaccines from Russia. Likewise, China sent us COVID-19 vaccines, which have already been used. We will also negotiate with China [to obtain more vaccines].”

After Myanmar experienced a second wave of COVID-19 in August last year, the National League for Democracy government began to implement a nationwide vaccination program on Jan. 27, days before the military coup on Feb. 1. Health-care staff and volunteer medical workers were the first to receive shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine donated by India.

The military regime continued to administer vaccinations using vaccines donated by China.

The regime claimed in May that more than 1.7 million citizens had received two jabs.

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