Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar MPs to Receive COVID-19 Tests Before Coronavirus Budgetary Discussions

By Thiha Lwin 12 May 2020

Naypyitaw — Lawmakers at the Union Parliament will be tested for coronavirus on May 14-15, according to the head of Naypyitaw Public Health Department, Dr. Myat Wunna Soe.

“The tests will be done in two days. Their nasal swabs will be taken and sent to Yangon for lab tests,” he said.

The parliamentary sessions of the Union Parliament, Upper House and Lower House are due to resume on May 18. Lawmakers were instructed to arrive in Naypyitaw 10 days earlier.

Department staff will take nasal swabs from lawmakers at the Naypyitaw City Development Committee Guesthouse.

“We have made preparations. We have instructed that lawmakers arrive [10 days] before the parliamentary sessions begin. The results of lab tests will be available before the sessions begin,” said director-general U Kyaw Soe of the Office of the Union Parliament.

Apart from the lawmakers, their families who came to Naypyitaw together with them, guesthouse staff who may come into contact with them, transport and parliament staff and health care providers in the parliament will also be tested for coronavirus.

Journalists who cover the sessions will not be tested for coronavirus, but they must strictly follow the COVID-19 instructions, said U Kyaw Soe.

Lawmakers have not been banned from leaving the guesthouse which is also accessible by outsiders and there were no temperature screenings, said Lower House lawmaker U Aung Hlaing Win of Yangon’s Mingaladon Township.

“We thought we would be monitored for one week and also provided with meals inside the guesthouse. But there were no restrictions,” he said.

“I heard lab tests will be done on lawmakers. I attended the meeting of the bill committee today. I found that they have arranged the seats apart,” Lower House lawmaker U Sai Tun Aye of Shan State’s Mong Hsu Township said on Monday.

On the agenda is the bill on the budgetary top-up for the 2019-20 fiscal year, and the proposal to obtain loans from the World Bank to fight COVID-19.

Myanmar’s military announced on May 8 that it had tested 219 military lawmakers and their assistants at the 1,000-bed Naypyitaw military hospital, and all tested negative.

The National League for Democracy makes up 59 percent of the Union Parliament, ethnic minority parties 11 percent, the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party 5 percent and the military has a further 25 percent of the seats.

By Tuesday, Myanmar has reported 180 COVID-19 cases with six deaths and 74 recoveries.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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