Myanmar & COVID-19

First Myanmar Doctor to Contract COVID-19 Recovers

By Nyein Nyein 25 May 2020

Anesthesiologist Dr. Myint Myint Sein from Pyay General Hospital in Bago Region became the first doctor in Myanmar to be infected with COVID-19 last month. After receiving treatment, she has recovered and returned home on Monday.

The 58-year-old doctor was part of the medical team that treated a COVID-19 patient who died on April 8 at Pyay General Hospital. When the patient was in critical condition and in need of breathing support, she removed her eye shield without hesitation in order to intubate him. She tested positive for the disease on April 11 and was treated at Yangon’s Waibargi Specialist Hospital for Infectious Diseases.

On Monday, she officially joined Myanmar’s 122 recovered COVID-19 patients. The country so far has 201 confirmed cases of the disease, including six deaths, and has tested 17,875 people.

Before she returned home from the hospital on Monday, Dr. Myint Myint Sein thanked everyone through a friend’s Facebook live stream.

Despite being one of the biggest hospitals in the Bago Region, Pyay’s 500-Bed General Hospital has just two anesthesiologists—Dr. Myint Myint Sein and her assistant. The hospital also lacks properly trained staff to run its intensive care unit, so her small team, comprised of just a few nurses and her assistant, have struggled to handle COVID-19 patients.

Sharing words with a group of medical staff at Waibargi Specialist Hospital on Monday, she said that even though hospitals may have inadequate numbers of staff, the health care workers must persist in their fight against the virus as they still have the skills, the knowledge and—importantly—the ability to work together.

For her immediate plan, the doctor added, she will take some time before going back to her hospital, which is different from other work environments.

She spoke to the staff at Waibargi on Monday about the challenges they all face. “We did not have a video laryngoscope and lacked other necessary protective gear. We were stressed and afraid, and we faced failure. Then I was infected. For that I have no regret. This is the duty of health care workers,” she said.

“But I very much hope for a safe working environment for all health care staff to do their work. I want policymakers and the public to understand. When we have a safe working environment, we can provide safe treatment amid this pandemic…as it is unknown when this deadly virus will go away,” she added.

Dr. Myint Myint Sein is known and highly respected among her colleagues for her outspokenness and professionalism. During a videoconference with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on April 28, highlighted the difficulties Myanmar’s health care workers are currently facing in their attempts to save COVID-19 patients’ lives.

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