Myanmar & COVID-19

Latest COVID-19 Developments in Myanmar: April 7, 2020

By The Irrawaddy 7 April 2020

Myanmar Military Doctors to Staff New Makeshift COVID-19 Hospital in Yangon

Myanmar military medical personnel will treat patients at a temporary 200-bed COVID-19 hospital being prepared on the outskirts of Yangon by the regional government.

– By Kyaw Phyo Tha & Htet Naing Zaw

YANGON—The government of Yangon is preparing a new makeshift hospital with capacity for at least 200 COVID-19 patients on the outskirts of the city and the Myanmar military has agreed to dispatch two medical teams to staff the facility at the request of the regional government.

COVID-19 patients in Yangon are currently being treated at the Waibargi Infectious Disease Hospital. A total of 13 patients are now receiving treatment there.

The Yangon regional government said on Sunday that it is building the temporary hospital with an initial capacity of 200 beds for COVID-19 patients by converting hostels for medical use at the Central Institute of Civil Service in Hlegu Township.

Regional authorities sent a letter to the Myanmar military’s Yangon Command last Friday, informing it about the plan to open a makeshift hospital as soon as possible.

The facility is intended to treat COVID-19 patients exclusively, and around 205 health workers will be needed to run it, according to the letter signed by U Moe Hein, secretary 2 of the Yangon regional government.

The letter requested the cooperation of the Myanmar Army Medical Corps in the task, and asked the Yangon Command to notify the Yangon government about the type and number of military medics available to staff the facility.

The Myanmar military told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that it will dispatch two medical teams, each comprising 40 health care professionals, to the new hospital.

Military spokesperson Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun said the Tatmadaw would dispatch its medical teams once the hospital is ready for operation.

“We learned that the hospital will be ready by April 10. We will dispatch our medical teams then,” Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said.

The Tatmadaw has prepared two teams but will start by sending one, he said. Each team will comprise 12 specialists, 10 general practitioners, 14 senior nurses, two lab technicians and two radiographers, he said.

According to the Yangon Health Department, a total of 3,412 people are under quarantine at government-designated quarantine facilities and hospitals, and 298 people are under home quarantine.

According to the ministry, 22 COVID-19 cases had been reported in Myanmar by noon on Tuesday, with one fatality.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

Myanmar’s Military Donates Wages to COVID-19 Fight

Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his fellow military chiefs have donated a month’s official wage while other ranks gave one day’s pay to fight coronavirus.

– By Moe Moe

The Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (center). / Htet Wai / The Irrawaddy

Naypyitaw — Myanmar’s commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his armed forces say they have collectively donated over 2.245 billion kyats (US$1.6 million) to be used in the prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19.

The amount included a month’s salary of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and other senior officers and a day’s wages for other ranks and civilian staff.

The donation is intended to purchase medical equipment for public hospitals as well as for prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19 and quarantine centers.

Myanmar’s military has prepared a transit center in Yangon’s Hlaing Township to quarantine 1,000 people and another site in Naypyitaw to take care of some 15,000 people.

By Sunday, the transit center in Hlaing received 124 people for quarantine and the center in Naypyitaw took in 163 returning migrants.

The military commands in Naypyitaw and Yangon are providing health care and meals and everyone was doing well, according to Myanmar’s military.

The military said it is ready to assist the government’s COVID-19 efforts and it has also been spraying disinfectant at religious buildings, markets and hospitals.

By Tuesday noon, Myanmar reported 22 COVID-19 cases, one death with more than 700 people being monitored.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

Myanmar Firms to Make Face Masks to Meet COVID-19 Demand

Several Yangon employers say they will import mask-making machinery from China and adapt clothing factories to meet rising demand as COVID-19 fear spreads.

– By Myo Pa Pa San

Masks are an increasingly common sight at Sule Pagoda in Yangon. / Htet Wai / The Irrawaddy

Yangon — Businesses in Yangon are preparing to produce face masks as prices rise due to the coronavirus.

Two or three businesses in Shwelinpan Industrial Zone are preparing to produce masks and have ordered equipment and supplies from China, according to U Nay Lin Zin, the general secretary of Shwelinpan Industrial Zone management committee in Hlaing Tharyar Township.

“Mask-making machines cost around 110 million kyats [US$77,000] and can produce 100 masks per minute, so 6,000 per hour. A machine can produce around 120,000 if it operates for 20 hours per day,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The masks could be manufactured at clothing factories, he said.

“Previously, a mask cost around 25 kyats [2 cents], but now the prices have risen to 1,000 kyats [70 cents]. The prices will fall if we can produce masks domestically. We intend to supply the domestic market when imports are unavailable,” said U Nay Lin Zin.

Some industrialists in Shwepyithar Township are also reportedly preparing to produce masks at their factories.

Certain vitamin supplements such as immune boosters and hand sanitizers and disinfectant are out of stock or their prices have increased drastically.

The price of 10 surgical masks has increased from 450 kyats in early January to between 4,000 kyats and 6,000 kyats in April.

“I can no longer buy masks. And I can’t buy hospital-grade alcohol-based hand gel for my baby. [Pharmacies] said they are out of stock. Everything has to be imported,” said a resident of Tamwe Township, who did not want to be named.

“It is good that masks will be produced domestically. I want medicines and medical equipment produced domestically in the future. This pandemic is an example,” he added.

Myanmar imports up to 90 percent of its pharmaceuticals, mainly from China, India and Thailand.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

Myanmar Reports 22nd COVID-19 Case

A 51-year-old woman who returned from the US last month has been confirmed as the country’s 22nd COVID-19 patient; she has been in quarantine in Yangon since March 26.

– By The Irrawaddy

A COVID-19 educational poster in Yangon / Htet Wai / The Irrawaddy

Myanmar confirmed another COVID-19 case on Monday evening, taking the country’s total to 22 confirmed coronavirus patients, including one death.

Case No. 22, a 51-year-old woman, was quarantined at a hotel in Yangon when she tested positive. While quarantined, she shared a room with her 24-year-old-daughter, who tested positive on April 4, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS).

Both women returned to Myanmar from the US last month, transiting in South Korea and Thailand before arriving in Myanmar on March 26. Upon their arrival, they were placed in a hotel serving as a designated quarantine facility.

Myanmar had tested 1,340 people by Monday.

As of Sunday, 74,846 people were under 14-day quarantine at designated facilities across the country, 776 people were under observation (as PUIs, or persons under investigation) and 156 were quarantined at hospitals, according to Dr. Khin Khin Gyi, the director of the Central Contagious Disease Prevention and Eradication Sub-Department at the MOHS.

One of the 22 confirmed cases, who was also a cancer patient, died on March 31 of multiple causes including COVID-19. Of the 21 surviving patients, 19 are in stable condition and receiving treatment at Yangon’s Waibargi Hospital, Mandalay’s Kandawnadi Hospital, Chin State’s Tedim Hospital, Naypyitaw Hospital, Shan State’s Lashio Hospital and Bago Region’s Pyay General Hospital.

One patient is in intensive care at Yangon’s Waibargi Hospital and another is in intensive care at Pyay General Hospital.

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