Myanmar & COVID-19

Don’t Let Your Guard Down, Myanmar Health Minister Warns Public on COVID-19

By San Yamin Aung 4 May 2020

YANGON—Myanmar’s Union minister of health and sports has warned of the likelihood of a surge in new COVID-19 cases and urged the public not to let its guard down in the fight against the infectious disease.

Referring to the fact that the country went for several days without seeing any new cases in the last week of April, minister Dr. Myint Htwe said in a statement released on Sunday that the COVID-19 outbreak in Myanmar had been curtailed to some extent after hitting the country on March 23.

Yet, the minister said health authorities remained concerned that there could be hidden cases circulating in the population and the number of reported cases may not reflect reality.

Many cases in which a person is infected with the virus but remains asymptomatic might not be reported, the minister said. He said 57 percent of the country’s total confirmed COVID-19 patients were asymptomatic.

The minister also said the spread of COVID-19 could increase in the coming weeks due to the arrival of Myanmar citizens currently stranded in countries that have been hit hard by COVID-19 and the reopening of factories this month.

“Therefore, it is especially important to keep up the preventive and control measures against COVID-19 and not to let up,” he said in the statement, adding that the ministry will also expand its testing for COVID-19.

Yangon regional lawmaker Daw Kyi Pyar said many people have started resuming normal activities since late April as the country has seen a decrease in the number of new cases and businesses have started resuming operations.

“The difference since before [the outbreak of COVID-19] is that now there are those who wear masks on the streets, but most of them wear them the wrong way, placing them on the chin,” the MP said.

The lawmaker added that not only the general public, but also local authorities had become relaxed about raising awareness of COVID-19 among the public, making less effort than before.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Sunday called on the public to strictly follow COVID-19 prevention instructions.

“Don’t let down your guard just because COVID has been quiet for the past one or two days. The situation when we can all feel secure is still far off,” she wrote on her Facebook page, referring to the fact that the country reported no new cases on Friday and Saturday.

Four new cases were reported on Sunday night, taking the total number of reported cases to 155.

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