Myanmar & COVID-19

COVID-19 Deaths Rising Sharply in Myanmar’s Mandalay

By Thiha Lwin 18 December 2020

Naypyitaw — Mandalay Region is seeing the second-largest number of COVID-19 cases after Yangon Region, and deaths have increased daily, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports.

More than 10,000 cases have been reported in Mandalay Region with over 300 new cases on average per day. As of Thursday, the region reported 10,433 cases and 141 deaths and set a single-day record of 363 new cases.

Of seven districts in the region, Mandalay District was hit hardest with 8,469 coronavirus cases. Thirteen people died from COVID-19 in Mandalay Region on Wednesday, and 10 of the deaths were in Mandalay District, where semi-lockdown is in effect.

U Khin Maung Tint, chairman of the community-based Minkhaung rescue and relief team, said at least 21 COVID-19 patients and those under quarantine for having contact with coronavirus patients died on Thursday.

“The number of fatalities seems to be the highest today [Thursday]. We had 14 bodies from Mandalay Hospital, two from AYA COVID-19 Center and five from a 300-bed hospital cremated today,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Mandalay’s philanthropic organizations have helped the regional health department with transporting patients to hospitals and COVID-19 centers and taking bodies to cemeteries.

In the early days of the second wave of COVID-19 in mid-August, the situation was under control in Mandalay with the authorities only keeping an eye on returnees from foreign countries, Rakhine State and Yangon. The pandemic, however, went out of control following rallies in the run-up to November 8 general election, said U Khin Maung Tint.

“Cases increased to between 100 and 200 per day. On some days, we had to work 24 hours without a break,” he said.

Mandalay General Hospital has been forced to convert wards into COVID-19 zones and a new building is being used to cope with coronavirus patients, said the medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr. Nwe Nwe Hlaing.

“The number of patients has increased because they don’t follow the health guidelines. Like in Yangon, the severity has also increased and more people need to be put on ventilators,” she said.

The new wards are equipped for high-dependency and intensive-care patients with ventilators fixed to every bed, said the superintendent.

The hospital said there were only 247 COVID-19 patients by October which rose to 3,537 in the second week of December. Currently, 166 coronavirus patients are at the hospital.

Of over 10,000 cases in Mandalay Region, over 7,000 have already been discharged and nearly 3,000 are still receiving treatment.

The regional government imposed a semi-lockdown on Dec. 5 in seven townships, restricting travel between townships. But cases continue to rise in those townships.

U Thein Myint Aung of Aungmyaythazan Township said the surge is partly because the authorities have failed to prosecute those breaking the rules.

“We are worried. Many families, including us, are facing hardships as COVID-19 restrictions continue. We are also worried about it,” he said.

Mandalay Region Chief Minister Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said: “If people don’t follow the regulations, the pandemic will continue into next year because there are two major events: Christmas and New Year. We don’t want people to gather.”

In Mandalay, COVID-19 patients are being treated at the labor, traditional medicine and Sangha hospitals in addition to the public hospitals. More COVID-19 centers are being opened to treat patients and quarantine suspected carriers.

As of Thursday evening, Myanmar had reported 113,082 cases, with 91,537 recoveries and 2,377 deaths.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko