Selected Civil Servants Get COVID-19 Tests in Myanmar’s Capital

By Thiha Lwin 17 September 2020


Naypyitaw — The Naypyitaw Health Department has started screening civil servants for coronavirus at the instruction of the Central Committee for COVID-19 Prevention, Control and Treatment led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, after government staff tested positive for the virus.

The screening program started on Tuesday and by Wednesday evening some staff at the President’s Office, State Counselor’s Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry and four other ministries had been tested, said the health department’s deputy director-general, Dr. Myat Wunna Soe.

“All the ministries will be tested. All the staff have so far tested negative,” Dr. Myat Wunna Soe told The Irrawaddy.

There are 24 ministries and the health department has reportedly been screening around 400 civil servants per day, taking swab samples at the city’s 1,000-bed general hospital and Naypyitaw City Development Committee Guesthouse.

Not every staff member was screened and those directly involved in the functioning of the ministries were tested as the priority, according to U Tun Tun Naing, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry, who received the test on Wednesday.

“Not all the staff at the ministry need to receive tests. The health department restricts the numbers. Mainly ministers, deputy ministers, officials at the ministers’ office and drivers were screened,” U Tun Tun Naing told The Irrawaddy.

As of Wednesday, Naypyitaw has reported 53 COVID-19 cases and civil servants and their relatives account for about half of the cases, according to the health department.

Officials at the President’s Office, State Counselor’s Office, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and Ministry of Information and their relatives have contracted coronavirus.

An official at the Ministry of Information, who asked for anonymity, suggested staff who need to regularly visit their offices should be screened besides those who have come into direct contact with those infected.

“If possible, I want those who have had direct contact with anyone infected as well as those working in key departments to be screened,” he said.

Travel into the capital has been restricted since Sept. 2, following a spike in COVID-19 cases, but the numbers keep increasing.

Ministries are working in shifts to ensure physical distancing with restrictions on staff numbers in offices and during their leisure time. None of Naypyitaw’s eight townships are under lockdown.

As of Thursday morning, Myanmar has reported 3,894 COVID-19 cases with 46 deaths.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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