Medics in Myanmar’s Mandalay Fall Sick with COVID-19 as Cases Spike
By Kyaw Myo 4 December 2020
Naypyitaw — Nearly 100 health workers, including doctors and nurses, at Mandalay General Hospital have contracted coronavirus, the hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr. Nway Nway Hlaing, told The Irrawaddy.
A total of 20 doctors, 20 nurses and nearly 60 other staff members were infected with the virus, she said.
Some of them might have contracted the virus from their family members or COVID-19 patients who they were treating, which led to a cluster of infections among health workers, she added.
“As the virus has spread widely among the public, they might be either infected at the hospital or by relatives,” said Dr. Nway Nway Hlaing.
The infected staff are being treated at the COVID-19 isolation ward and the hospital is operating with the remaining health workers.
Mandalay Region’s chief minister, Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, told the press on Tuesday that around four in every 1,000 people have been infected with coronavirus in Mandalay District, which is made up of seven townships with a total population of 1.3 million.
In response to spikes in cases in the district, the regional government has extended COVID-19 restrictions until December 18.
Apart from essential sectors like finance, food, medicine and logistics, businesses have been ordered to suspend operations and working from home is encouraged while residents are allowed to leave their homes only to buy food and for health reasons.
Dr. Zaw Myint Maung warned that it would still be difficult to control the pandemic if people break the regulations.
“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,” he said.
“I am not sure if Mandalay residents are afraid of COVID-19 because I saw families and couples relaxing by the moat. It seems that they have nowhere to go. No one cares that the police and administrative staff are requesting them to disperse,” Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said.
U Than Toe Aung of Maha Aung Myay Township blamed the public for attending gatherings.
“The government is not prosecuting anyone. People take advantage of this and gather unnecessarily so COVID-19 cases have increased.”
As 150 to 200 COVID-19 cases have been reported per day in Mandalay recently, some residents want the government to introduce a semi-lockdown, said U Khin Maung Tint, chairman of a community-based rescue group, Parahita Min Khaung.
The group has been busy between 5am to 3pm each day taking residents who have lost their sense of smell to increasingly crowded hospitals, he said.
Gatherings have been banned and restaurants, tea shops and pubs can only offer takeaways. The authorities are threatening anyone breaching the rules with prosecution.
On Wednesday there were 5,000 COVID-19 cases in Mandalay District with over 3,000 recoveries and more than 50 deaths, while around 1,900 were receiving hospital treatment, according to the regional COVID-19 committee.
The patients are being treated at the labor, traditional medicine and Sangha hospitals in addition to the public hospitals.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko
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