YANGON—Myanmar has been reporting around 1,000 new COVID-19 cases and dozens of deaths a day since last week, with the rise in the number of new cases attributed in part to the country’s improved testing capability.
Since last Tuesday, Myanmar has managed to increase testing for COVID-19 from 5,000 to more than 8,000 per day after introducing antigen rapid test kits.
Myanmar reported more than 5,400 additional COVID-19 cases, and 134 deaths, between Oct. 1 and 5 (Monday), according to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS).
As of Tuesday morning, Myanmar had reported a total of 18,781 COVID-19 cases including 444 fatalities and 5,548 recoveries.
In recent days, the daily death toll has fluctuated between a dozen and more than three dozen. A total of 41 new COVID-19 fatalities were reported on Sunday, and 32 on Monday.
Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said in a televised speech on Monday evening that more than 1,000 extra cases had been spotted because of the use of antigen test kits, which provide test results quickly.
She urged people not to be unduly alarmed by the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases.
“We will discover more positive [cases] quickly. This means we will be able to provide treatment quickly,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.
Among ASEAN members, Myanmar is now third in terms of COVID-19 deaths behind Indonesia with more than 11,253 and the Philippines with more than 5,840.
In Myanmar, the fatality rate for COVID-19 is about 2 percent.
In terms of COVID-19 cases, Myanmar is fourth in ASEAN behind the Philippines with more than 325,000 cases, Indonesia (more than 307,000) and Singapore (more than 57,800).
According to an MOHS official, 65 percent of the country’s total COVID-19 deaths involved patients above 60 years of age.
Health Ministry officials said that the elderly and those with underlying diseases are at greater risk of dying from COVID-19.
Myanmar has been experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 since Aug. 16, when the country’s first domestic transmission in a month was reported in the Rakhine State capital, Sittwe.
The country has since reported 18,407 cases, compared with a total of 374 cases and six deaths in the five months after March 23, when the country’s first case was announced.
So far, COVID-19 cases have been reported in 205 townships in 14 states and regions with only Kayah State reporting no cases.
A total of 529 cases were reported in Myanmar from Aug. 16-31. In September alone, a total of 12,491 cases were reported.
The country’s major COVID-19 hotspot is Yangon, which had reported more than 14,000 cases as of Monday evening, followed by Rakhine State with more than 1,600.
Currently, more than 7,400 COVID-19 patients are being treated at COVID-19 hospitals in Yangon, according to a regional health chief.
To contain the spread of the virus in the region, all Yangon residents, except for those in Cocokyun Township (on the Coco Islands) have been ordered to stay at home since Sept. 21. Meanwhile, employees of businesses and organizations have also been ordered to work from home.
The MOHS on Monday ordered all garment factories in the city to remain closed until Oct. 21 due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Previously, all garment factories were ordered to cease their operations for two weeks from Sept. 24 to Oct. 7.
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