Myanmar Military to Lend State-of-the-Art Machines for Public COVID-19 Testing
By Thiha Lwin 27 April 2020
YANGON—The Myanmar military will assist with laboratory testing for COVID-19 using two high-capacity machines, each of which can process 1,400 samples per day, Myanmar military spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun said at a press conference in Naypyitaw on Saturday.
The military, known as the Tatmadaw, already has two Cobas 6800-model machines at two 1000-bed military hospitals in Yangon and Naypyitaw and recently purchased reagents to test for the coronavirus from abroad.
“We will assist in testing members of the public. That’s why we have installed them separately,” the brigadier general said, adding that the machines are now ready to operate following test runs on Thursday.
The Myanmar government formed the National-Level Central Committee for COVID-19 Prevention, Control and Treatment, headed by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11.
On March 30, the government formed another committee, the COVID-19 Control and Emergency Response Committee, led by military-appointed First Vice President U Myint Swe. The committee is comprised of the military-appointed ministers of defense, border affairs and home affairs as well as the civilian ministers of labor, immigration and population, religious affairs and culture, transport and communications and social welfare, relief and resettlement, as well as the minister of the Office of the Union Government.
Myanmar pharmaceutical company AA Medical Products Co Ltd has also donated a Cobas 6800 machine to the Ministry of Health and Sports. The machine is now being installed in Yangon.
Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said Saturday that the Tatmadaw now has a total of 2,000 reagents—1,000 bought from abroad and another 1,000 donated by AA Medical Products Co Ltd. He said the Tatmadaw also plans to obtain up to 10,000 pieces of reagent.
The Cobas 6800 machines are manufactured by Switzerland-based Roche Diagnostics Co, Ltd and are currently in use worldwide.
The military spokesperson said Saturday that the Tatmadaw also plans to send a machine with a capacity to process 200 samples per day to a 300-bed military hospital in eastern Shan State’s Kengtung in May.
The Tatmadaw has reported no cases of COVID-19 inside its barracks so far. According to a military statement on April 20, 18 military personnel and nine of their relatives are in hospital quarantine, 196 military personnel and 106 relatives are in home quarantine and 345 military personnel and 170 relatives are in government facility quarantine.
As of Monday morning, Myanmar has reported 146 COVID-19 cases with five deaths and ten recoveries since the first cases were confirmed on March 23.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.