Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Reports First Local COVID-19 Transmission in a Month

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 17 August 2020

YANGON—Myanmar’s first local transmission of the coronavirus in a month was detected in Rakhine State on Sunday, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS).

The ministry said Sunday that a 26-year-old woman with no overseas travel history and no recorded contact with a known COVID-19 patient tested positive for the coronavirus while in isolation at the General Hospital in the Rakhine State capital, Sittwe, where she was admitted Friday after falling ill. Prior to this case, the country’s last local transmission was reported on July 16, also in Rakhine State.

While the new patient, an employee of CB Bank, has not been overseas, she made several trips inside Rakhine State this month before being admitted to hospital, according to local health authorities and the MOHS.

On July 31, the patient traveled to Rakhine’s Kyaukphyu Township from Sittwe with six bank colleagues and two employees of a pharmaceuticals company on an Air KBZ flight and visited well-known places in the town.

Local health authorities said the patient flew back to Sittwe from Kyaukphyu on a Myanmar National Airlines flight on Aug. 2 and visited Ponnagyun Township the following day.

She returned to work at the Sittwe branch of CB Bank on Aug. 4.

Dr. Zaw Lwin, medical superintendent of the 500-bed Sittwe General Hospital, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the patient was hospitalized on Friday, having experienced symptoms of COVID-19 since Wednesday.

The mother of the patient and a 2-year-old child both had contact with her and are reportedly ill. They are in isolation at the hospital awaiting the results of COVID-19 tests.

According to Dr. Zaw Lwin, around 20 people including bank staff and family members from Kyaukphyu and Sittwe townships who had contact with the patient have been quarantined and will be tested for the coronavirus.

“The patient is in stable condition now,” Dr. Zaw Lwin said.

Dr. Than Naing Soe, spokesperson for the MOHS, said on Monday the ministry had sent a team of medical experts to Rakhine State to help regional health authorities trace the routes of transmission in this case, including checking the patient’s prior contacts, in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“We are very worried about this local transmission. We assume it is the tip of the iceberg. We will continue to be concerned until we can determine the extent of the transmission,” Dr. Than Naing Soe said.

CB Bank announced on Monday evening that its Sittwe branch would reopen on Wednesday with substitute staff after COVID-19 preventative measures are put in place in accordance with MOHS guidelines.

The bank said it would take care of the needs of all staff, including the patient, in relation to COVID-19.

As of Monday morning, Myanmar had reported 375 COVID-19 cases, with six deaths and 329 recoveries.

Of the country’s total 375 COVID-19 cases, 162 were transmitted locally.

Myanmar’s previous locally transmitted case, on July 16, was a 24-year-old man from Rakhine’s Kyauktaw Township who had not left the country and had no recorded contacts with any known COVID-19 patients.

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