Myanmar & COVID-19

COVID-19 Cases in Ayeyarwady Spike After Myanmar’s Election

By Salai Thant Zin 10 December 2020

Pathein, Ayeyarwady Region — In the month after the November 8 general election, the number of COVID-19 cases has doubled and death rates surged by six times in Ayeyarwady Region.

The number of COVID-19 cases increased from 1,430 on Nov. 8 to 3,313 on Dec. 8, an increase by nearly 1,900. While there were only three COVID-19 deaths by Nov. 8 in the region, 18 more people died from COVID-19 in a month, according to the Ayeyarwady Region Public Health Department.

“When the second wave of COVID-19 broke out in September in Ayeyarwady, most of the cases were reported in townships bordering Yangon Region. But later the virus spread to other townships. The hikes are mainly attributable to gatherings and failures to comply with COVID-19 regulations imposed by the Ministry of Health and Sports,” said Dr. Thiha Aung, deputy director of the department.

The majority of cases in October and November were reported among those who returned from Yangon to their home towns in Ayeyarwady to vote in the general election, Ayeyarwady residents who had visited Yangon, truck drivers and their conductors and those who came into contact with infected people.

By late November and early December, the number of COVID-19 patients without a travel history or known contact with infected people had increased gradually in the region, according to the Public Health Department.

Dr. Thiha Aung said the main coronavirus symptom is the loss of smell.

The first COVID-19 death in Ayeyarwady Region was reported in Myaungmya on Oct. 3 and two more deaths were reported on Nov. 6 and Nov. 8. Eighteen more people died between Nov. 17 and Dec. 5.

Medical superintendent of Myaungmya District Public Hospital Dr. Hnint Hsan Oo said: “Most of the people who died had underlying health problems or were elderly. They stayed at home but they still fall victim to COVID-19 because of people not following the regulations. Only when people abide by the rules will we be able to overcome this pandemic.”

Since Sept. 25, the Ministry of Health and Sports has imposed stay-at-home orders in Pathein, Maubin and Pyapon townships which have seen the largest numbers of cases. The cases dropped after the imposition of the lockdown but the numbers increased again since the third week of October and surged in November and December, according to the health department.

U Myint Htay, director of the Pathein-based Pandonma social development association, said: “Stay-at-home orders were issued by the health ministry and the Union government is responsible for enforcement. However, the orders are barely enforced at township, village and ward levels. To tackle COVID-19, the general administration departments must strictly enforce stay-at-home orders.”

On Tuesday, 3,313 COVID-19 cases were reported in Ayeyarwady Region with 2,542 recoveries.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko