Vaccinated Rakhine Residents Catch COVID-19 on Myanmar-Bangladesh Border

By The Irrawaddy 27 June 2021

Residents in Maungdaw, a border town with Bangladesh in Rakhine State, are worried about a serious coronavirus outbreak in the town after three people who had received two COVID-19 jabs tested positive.

Two Maungdaw District General Administration Department (GAD) employees and a female resident tested positive for coronavirus, said medical superintendent of Maungdaw District Hospital Dr. Nu Cathie San.

“There have been seven COVID-19 patients in Maungdaw. The two GAD staff and a female patient received both vaccine jabs. It is possible to be infected with coronavirus after receiving both jabs. There is no 100-percent guarantee. The most important thing is to follow the Ministry of Health and Sports guidelines,” said the medical superintendent.

All three are receiving treatment at Maungdaw Hospital and those who came into contact with them have been placed under quarantine.

Former Rakhine State lawmaker U Tun Hla Sein said the authorities are not handling the issue seriously enough.

“It is assumed that the virus spread from Bangladesh. The authorities need to carefully handle border crossings but they are not handling the COVID-19 outbreak seriously as they have had their jabs. Personnel told me that there is no budget for COVID-19,” said the Maungdaw-based former lawmaker.

Four residents tested positive for COVID-19 in Mingan ward in Rakhine State’s capital Sittwe this week. Numerous sailors who returned after transporting goods to Bangladesh also caught the virus. More than 40 COVID-19 patients are at Sittwe Hospital.

COVID-19 cases are increasing in Rakhine State. Two suspects being detained at a police station in Taungup and a basic education middle school teacher in Thandwe tested positive for coronavirus this week.

Despite increased COVID-19 cases, including among people who have not traveled, there is currently still no plan to close Rakhine’s schools, said the head of the state education office, U Tin Thein.

Basic education schools opened on June 1 in Rakhine and more than 300,000 or almost all pupils have attended schools in the state, according to the office.

A total of 84 COVID-19 cases — 75 in Sittwe, seven in Maungdaw and two in Taungup — have been reported in Rakhine since January.

Myanmar has been hit by a fresh wave of COVID-19 since May. Sagaing Region has seen the largest number of cases, followed by Yangon Region and Chin State. Clusters of infections have also been reported in Yangon and Bago regions.

A stay-at-home order was imposed on Lashio in Shan State on Sunday as the town recorded 298 COVID-19 cases.

The regime has already imposed stay-at-home orders on nine other townships: Tamu and Kale in Sagaing Region; Tonzang, Hakha, Tedim, Falam and Thantlang townships in Chin State; and Bago Region’s Letpadan and Phyu townships.

According to the junta-controlled health ministry, Myanmar on Saturday recorded 152,356 COVID-19 cases with 3,290 deaths nationwide.

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