Myanmar & COVID-19

Three More Local COVID-19 Transmissions Reported in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 19 August 2020

YANGON—Three more local COVID-19 transmissions were detected in Rakhine State on Wednesday, three days after Myanmar reported its first locally transmitted case in a month, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS).

As of Wednesday morning, Myanmar had reported 379 COVID-19 cases including six deaths and 331 recoveries. Of the country’s total 379 COVID-19 cases so far, 165 were transmitted locally.

On Sunday, a 26-year-old female employee of CB Bank with no overseas travel history and no recorded contact with a known COVID-19 patient tested positive for coronavirus as the first local transmission case in the Rakhine State capital, Sittwe.

However, around 150 people from three townships in Rakhine State to which the patient traveled earlier this month have been placed under quarantine. All had contact or secondary contact with the patient. Swab samples have been taken from them in order to conduct COVID-19 tests.

On Wednesday, among the 150 people under quarantine, two women aged 50 and 45 from Sittwe tested positive for COVID-19. They are the mothers of two CB Bank staff who had direct contact with the patient.

“The two patients are secondary contacts of the patient, since their daughters—both employees of CB Bank—had direct contact with the [first] patient,” Dr. Zaw Lwin, medical superintendent of the 500-bed Sittwe General Hospital, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

The patients’ daughters—the two women who work at the bank with the first patient—tested negative for coronavirus after their first test, and will be tested for COVID-19 again later.

On the same day, a 23-year-old female NGO employee in Sittwe also tested positive for the coronavirus while in isolation at the hospital, where she had been admitted after coming down with fever and other symptoms of COVID-19, Dr. Zaw Lwin said.

The woman had no overseas travel history and no recorded contact with a known COVID-19 patient, but she had a history of traveling to Rohingya IDP camps in Rakhine State before her admission to hospital.

Currently, three family members of the 23-year-old and two secondary contacts of the first patient from CB Bank are in isolation at the hospital, with some reportedly suffering from fever. Their contacts are being traced and swab samples have been taken from them for COVID-19 testing.

Additionally, a Buddhist monk who has COVID-19 symptoms including a fever has been isolated at the hospital and will be tested for COVID-19, according to Dr. Zaw Lwin.

Dr. Soe Win Paing, assistant director of the Rakhine State Health Department, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that the 23-year-old patient’s contacts are being traced in order to curb the spread of pandemic.

Dr. Zaw Lwin said, “The current situation could lead to a second wave of COVID-19 because of the transmission cases. It is time to follow the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 guidelines precisely.”

Prior to this week’s cases, Myanmar’s last locally transmitted case was a 24-year-old man from Rakhine’s Kyauktaw Township, reported on July 16. At the time it was reported that he had not left the country and had no recorded contacts with any known COVID-19 patients. However, the Health Ministry later found that he had traveled to Bangladesh.

Among the country’s total COVID-19 cases, 20 were reported in Rakhine State, including several patients who returned to Myanmar illegally from Bangladesh.

MOHS spokesperson Dr. Than Naing Soe told The Irrawaddy that health officials’ top priority was curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Rakhine State, due to the high number of cases in neighboring Bangladesh.

As of Tuesday, Bangladesh had reported 279,144 COVID-19 cases, including 3,694 deaths.

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