Myanmar Health Official Warns of Political Campaign as COVID-19 Cases Exceed 10,000
By Zaw Zaw Htwe 28 September 2020
Yangon – An official at Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports, has warned that tackling COVID-19 is more important than the election campaign as the country’s coronavirus cases exceeded 10,000 over the weekend.
Dr. Khin Khin Gyi, the director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit, said health is more important than political campaigning. “Don’t be careless as the Grim Reaper is within an arm’s length” she said.
Around 800 COVID-19 cases are being reported per day in the country.
On Monday morning, Myanmar reported 10,734 COVID-19 cases, including 226 deaths and 2,862 recoveries.
Currently, the transmission rate is 100 times higher than during the first wave in the country.
About 1,603 people are currently testing positive for COVID-19 per week compared to about 16 per week before Aug. 16, said Dr. Khin Khin Gyi.
Of 198 COVID-19 deaths, 137 or 69 percent of the victims have been above 60, with many infected by their relatives while staying at home, she said.
Dr. Khin Khin Gyi also said many deaths did not involve the elderly or people with underlying conditions.
All gatherings, including those ahead of the Nov. 8 general election, should be avoided to avoid spreading the virus, she added.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) has faced criticism after hundreds of supporters gathered in Mandalay in apparent breach of the COVID-19 guidelines.
Monywa Aung Shin, secretary of the NLD’s central information committee, told The Irrawaddy that it is impossible to take action against the party’s supporters, who were told to observe physical distancing and wear masks.
Since Aug. 16, Myanmar reported 10,360 coronavirus cases, compared to the 374 cases in the preceding five months after March 23.
And 220 COVID-19 deaths have been reported since Sept. 4, compared to six deaths before September, after the first case was reported on March 23.
Hardest hit is Yangon Region, which has reported more than 7,700 cases since Aug. 16, followed by Rakhine State with more than 1,300 cases.
On Sunday, Yangon’s regional authorities launched operations on roads with inspections on people moving between townships.
Temporary checkpoints are checking drivers’ permission to travel. Only essential workers are allowed to pass between townships.
The health ministry has ordered all garment factories to cease operations until Oct. 7 and other businesses and organizations have been ordered to work from home.
All residents of Yangon Region, except for the islands of Cocokyun Township, have been ordered to stay at home.
Professor Zaw Wai Soe, vice-chairman of the Yangon coordinating COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment committee, said on Sunday that more medics are needed in the city.
Medical volunteers are being requested to cooperate in Yangon’s fight against COVID-19, he said.
The health ministry said COVID-19 cases have been reported in 205 townships across 14 states and regions with only Kayah State reporting no coronavirus cases.
The number of cases in Myanmar is close to overtaking Malaysia, which has reported 10,919 cases, behind the Philippines with more than 304,000 cases, Indonesia with more than 275,000 cases and Singapore with more than 57,700 cases.
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