Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Health Minister Urges Renewed Vigilance to Prevent Second COVID-19 Wave

By San Yamin Aung 29 July 2020

YANGON—Union Health Minister Dr. Myint Htwe called Wednesday for people in Myanmar to remain vigilant regarding health guidelines, as public participation is still the most important factor in containing COVID-19. He made the statement as many in the country have abandoned prevention and control measures, including factories and other workplaces but also local authorities.

Dr. Myint Htwe said that Myanmar was able to contain the spread of COVID-19 so far because of measures taken since early January as well as active public participation and cooperation in the fight against the disease.

However, he said that if the country lets its guard down before COVID-19 is eliminated, it could lead to a second wave of the disease, adding that many other countries have recently faced record-breaking spikes in daily COVID-19 cases.

He pointed to how people are now relaxed, no longer wear masks and have abandoned social distancing in crowded places as though they are inviting a second wave of the disease.

He also said that many factories and other workplaces in Yangon were found to be in violation of the Health Ministry’s guidelines for preventing infections during recent checks.

“We will force them to follow the guidelines together with the local authorities and the Labor, Immigration and Population Ministry,” he added.

The minister also reminded local authorities to keep raising awareness of COVID-19 in public places at least three times per a day as they are now making less effort than before.

“Whether we can continue to contain the disease is dependent on public participation and cooperation on preventative measures,” he stressed.

Myanmar reported its first COVID-19 cases on March 23 and has since seen 350 cases with six deaths and more than 80 percent of the patients recovering.

As infections inside the country have declined since mid-May, the government has eased COVID-19 restrictions, lifting all stay-at-home restrictions and allowing local travel.

The government also started the first phase in the reopening of schools last week with high school students resuming classes. The government is considering a move to reopen closed cinemas with preventative guidelines in place. Bans on all visas and international flights, however, have yet lifted.

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