Myanmar & COVID-19

Latest COVID-19 Developments in Myanmar: April 8, 2020

By The Irrawaddy 8 April 2020

Myanmar’s Education Ministry Closes Offices Amid COVID-19 Scare

Two Education Ministry offices have been closed in Naypyitaw after an aged staff member was reported with coronavirus symptoms.

– By Htet Naing Zaw

Naypyitaw — The Education Ministry has temporarily closed two of its offices in Naypyitaw after a suspected COVID-19 case was reported, the ministry’s spokesman U Ko Lay Win told The Irrawaddy.

“We have imposed lockdowns on both offices 13 and 21 after we have found a suspected patient. He is a daily wage earner at Office 13. He is old. We sent him to the 1,000-bed hospital,” U Ko Lay Win said.

His throat swab has been sent to Yangon for lab tests and his apartment block is also under lockdown as a preventive measure, said U Ko Lay Win, who is also the director-general of the Basic Education Department.

“If he tests positive for coronavirus, we will have to trace others who came into close contact with him. The two offices are not completely closed with a few senior staff going go to their offices,” he said.

The deputy director of the Naypyitaw Health Department, Dr. Myat Wunna Soe, said the Health and Sports Ministry did not give the lockdown orders but the Education Ministry closed the offices because staff were worried.

“We have told the Education Ministry that we are still testing and the case has not yet been confirmed as COVID-19. But ministry staff were worried and dare not go to the offices,” he said.

Disinfectant had reportedly been sprayed at the apartment building but not on ministry orders, said Dr. Myat Wunna Soe. Ministry staff had inspected the building and would consider preventive measures, he added.

Naypyitaw’s only COVID-19 patient, a Swiss woman who works for the United Nations, will soon be discharged from the hospital after testing negative. Nineteen others have tested negative in Naypyitaw, according to the capital’s health department.

By Wednesday at noon, there were 22 COVID-19 cases in Myanmar with three deaths.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko


Myanmar State Counselor Says State Will Care for Family of Deceased COVID-19 Patient

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi says Myanmar will look after the family of a COVID-19 patient who died Wednesday, saying “each of our people is valuable for the country.”

– By Nyein Nyein

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi holds a video conference with people from Magwe to discuss their efforts in the fight against COVID-19. /Myanmar State Counselor Office

Myanmar’s de facto leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, said the state will look after the family of a COVID-19 patient from Bago Region’s Pauk Khaung Township who died on Wednesday, as all of the patient’s immediate family members, including two children, have tested positive for the disease.

“I feel sorry for the man who lost his life in Pyay hospital,” said the State Counselor during a live video conference on Wednesday morning with people in Magwe Region working in the fight against COVID-19.

“Losing one person is also a loss for everyone,” she added. “We feel sorry, but having sorrow alone is not enough. We have our responsibility. We must try not to make the situation worse.”

“The state will fully look after his surviving family members. It is the state’s duty. Each of our people is valuable for the country. We value you and will look after each of you as much as we can,” she said.

She urged everyone to take care of themselves and their health by staying home and practicing social distancing, as the latest death due to COVID-19 in Myanmar was a case of transmission through close family contact. She repeated that over-worrying won’t help, but that each citizen’s cooperation can help Myanmar’s fight against the global disease.

At the same time that the State Counselor was holding the video conference with health care workers in Magwe, another COVID-19 patient, a 63-year-old woman, died while in intensive care at Yangon’s Waibargi Hospital.

The country has now seen three deaths from COVID-19.

The man from Bago who died Wednesday was the township administrator for Pauk Khaung. The administrator’s wife, 8-year-old daughter, 10-year-old son and 18-year-old niece were also found to have contracted COVID-19. His wife worked at an international medical center in Yangon. After she fell ill two weeks ago, the administrator took the couple’s children from their home in Yangon’s Bahan Township to Pauk Khaung.

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry was preparing to move the children and niece—who are now in good health—from Pyay General Hospital to Waibargi Hospital, where the mother is receiving treatment.

Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr. Win Myat Aye also wrote on his Facebook that the ministry will do their best to help look after these children and will also work to provide them counseling.

According to the Ministry of Health and Sports, Myanmar had reported a total of 22 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday. All 19 surviving patients are in stable condition.


Chinese COVID-19 Specialists Arrive in Yangon

A team of Chinese medical specialists has arrived for a 14-day visit to boost Myanmar’s ability to control, test and treat COVID-19.

– By Zaw Zaw Htwe

A Chinese medical team arrives at Yangon International Airport to assist Myanmar in combating COVID-19. /Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy

Yangon – A Chinese medical team arrived with medicine and laboratory equipment at Yangon International Airport on Wednesday morning to assist Myanmar in combating COVID-19.

The Yunan-based team includes 12 specialists in intensive care, epidemics, infection prevention, control and laboratory testing and traditional Chinese medics.

Myanmar’s health ministry said the team would help prevent a coronavirus outbreak and have experience of providing intensive care to COVID-19 patients.

During its 14-day visit, the team aims to share its experience and train Myanmar’s medics.

It is also cooperating with the National Health Laboratory in testing for COVID-19 with laboratory materials to test 200 people per day.

“I especially thank the team for bringing the laboratory materials that can test many people,” health minister Dr. Myint Htwe told the media at the airport.

China has managed to limit the spread of the virus and is reporting more than 3,300 deaths in total.

After a 76-day lockdown, Wuhan – where coronavirus emerged in December – reopened on Wednesday and its residents are now allowed to travel elsewhere in China.

On March 17, China supplied Myanmar with the laboratory materials to test more than 2,000 people for COVID-19.

On March 26, China also supplied 5,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE), 5,000 M95 masks and over 200,000 single-use masks, according to Xinhua.

Myanmar has 22 COVID-19 cases and has reported three deaths.


Myanmar Scraps Restrictions on Movement in Two Regions

Sagaing Region and Kayah State have now reversed their restrictions on residents’ movement one day after issuing the order to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in Myanmar.

– By Nan Lwin

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

YANGON—One state and one regional government in Myanmar have already abandoned the restrictions they recently ordered on residents’ movements, originally aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus. Some residents had criticized the restrictions, saying they would harm local businesses and cause serious panic.

On Tuesday, one day after announcing the orders, the governments of Kayah State and Sagaing Region said they will drop the restrictions. The Kayah government said it wants to avoid spreading panic or harming the state socially and economically.

U Aung Myo, an Upper House lawmaker for Sagaing, confirmed to The Irrawaddy that the regional government revised the order.

“The previous order was causing a controversy among residents. It could have created a difficult situation for residents if they had to observe recommendations from township officials every time they have to travel,” said U Aung Myo. “This is the main reason that the regional government decided to revise it.”

Both governments are still urging residents to stay at home as much as possible. They also requested that residents follow instructions on COVID-19 from the National-Level COVID-19 Prevention, Control and Treatment Committee and the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS).

In its previous statement, the Kayah State government ordered all hotels, other accommodation, construction firms and clothing shops to close from April 8 until April 23. It also banned any vehicles with more than seven people from traveling on highways.

The Sagaing Region government also ordered residents not to travel except for funerals and health reasons. If residents must travel, they were going to be required to obtain a letter of recommendation from their township’s COVID-19 Protection, Control and Treatment Committee.

The Sagaing government also ordered all hotels, other accommodation, playgrounds and parks to close from April 7 until April 21. It also threatened legal action against anyone who does not follow instructions on COVID-19.

It has been more than two weeks since Myanmar confirmed its first COVID-19 case. As of Wednesday afternoon, the country had reported a total of 22 cases, including three deaths.

The government is attempting to persuade citizens that staying at home in April is the key to defeating COVID-19 in Myanmar. The government has said that what happens in April might decide the magnitude of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Last week, the Yangon government told all residents to observe a strict 10-day “stay home” period from April 10 to April 19, except for people involved in COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment activities.

On Saturday, Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also urged citizens to stay at home as much as possible.


Myanmar Reports Two More COVID-19 Deaths, Taking Toll to Three

A 47-year-old man in Bago Region and a 63-year-old woman in Yangon died of COVID-19 on Wednesday, taking the country’s death toll to three.

– By Nan Lwin

Volunteer social workers carry the coffin of a 47-year-old man who died of COVID-19 at Pyay General Hospital in Bago Region on Wednesday. / Salai Kaung Myat Min / The Irrawaddy

YANGON—Two COVID-19 patients died in Myanmar on Wednesday, taking the country’s coronavirus death toll to three.

A 47-year-old man who had been treated at Pyay General Hospital in Bago Region since testing positive last week died Wednesday morning, becoming the country’s second COVID-19 fatality.

Daw Khin Khin Gyi, director of the Central Contagious Disease Prevention and Eradication Sub-Department at the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS), said the cause of death was respiratory failure with septicemia, which is one of the symptoms of coronavirus. The patient was moved to the intensive care unit on Monday after suffering respiratory failure.

The man was a township administrator in Pauk Khaung of Bago Region. His wife, 8-year-old daughter, 10-year-old son and 18-year-old niece were also found to be infected last week.

The wife worked at an international medical center in Yangon. The man took the couple’s children from their home in Yangon’s Bahan Township to Pauk Khaung after his wife fell ill.

The other patient to die on Wednesday was a 63-year-old woman who had diabetes as an underlying illness. She tested positive on April 1 and was being treated at Waibagi Specialist Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Yangon. She died at around 11 a.m.

Daw Khin Khin Gyi said the woman died of cardiogenic shock with sepsis, severe pneumonia and cytokine storm syndrome associated with COVID-19 infection.

According to the MOHS, the woman had not traveled overseas recently but picked up her son, who returned from Dubai, at Yangon International Airport on March 15. She developed a high fever and fatigue and was admitted to the hospital the next day. She was from Ayeyarwaddy Region’s Yay Kyi Township and resided at a boardinghouse in North Okkalapa Township.

The woman was first admitted to a government hospital in North Okkalapa but reportedly did not tell staff there about her son’s recent return from overseas. She was later transferred to Waibagi Hospital, where she was put in the Intensive Care Unit.

Myanmar reported its first death from COVID-19 on March 31. The 69-year-old man had been undergoing treatment for stage-4 cancer and died from multiple causes including the coronavirus.

According to the MOHS, Myanmar had reported a total of 22 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday. All 19 surviving patients are in stable condition.

As of Monday, 1,340 people had been tested for the coronavirus, with 1,318 testing negative, the MOHS said. From Jan. 31 to April 4, Myanmar quarantined about 160 people at hospitals and nearly 66,500 people at other quarantine centers.

Of the 22 positive cases recorded so far, eight were locally transmitted while 14 were imported from France, the US, the UK, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, South Korea and Thailand, the ministry said.

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