CoronaVirus Myanmar – Latest Updates
Since yesterday only 238 coronavirus test has been made in Myanmar. All (except 3) turned NEGATIVE included the test for me and my wife as we had been in the War Ba Gi Hospital in quarantine as we had a travel history in Germany when we landed in Myanmar 10 days ago after as well a 9 days stay in Zanzibar.
All this have changed last evening when the Ministry of Health and Sports in Myanmar posted there late update (after 11pm – usually they do the daily update at 8pm and at that hour Myanmar had only 3 coronavirus infected persons). One person was a Myanmar citizen who have returned from UK on 22nd March and put on quarantine in the Hlegu facility and moved to the Way Bar Gi on 23rd March and the other person was a Myanmar Citizen coming from USA who have been intensely traveled to Chin State (visited families, attending a wedding and so one). While for the first pacient coming from UK and he was quarantine the changes of infected a large number of person is low (depending on how the transport was made between the facilities and how the facility in Hlegu was in terms of social distancing.
For the second case and he was traveling for more than 10 days it would be a different story. As we know Chin State is the least developed state in Myanmar and the health facility are poor it would be a big challenge the local authorities to handle a potential larger outbreak.
What followed next we might probably know – some panic buying at 1am in the morning at the few supermarkets open 24h in Yangon and a lot of online paniching messages.
As being part of the Myanmar family for more than 6 years and connected to the local life & media & culture a do understand a bit more the local culture and based on my person opinion the next advices would be great for my myanmar friends & people to try to follow as:
1.Cancel your Thingyan Holiday Plans & Family Visits
Myanmar New Year is just around the corner (mid April) and it is similar with the CNY in terms of exod of people from the cities to their rural places & holiday goers – all the hotels in the seaside in Myanmar are fully booked in advance during these period.
Secondly, most of the workers return to their family in the rural Myanmar (which stands up to 70% of the total population). And since the airlines are limited in terms of seats & flights the best way to get back home is via the popular buses. Which can be crowded, sometimes dirty and coronavirus carrier. Most of the person who will return home are young & middle age persons working in Yangon or other major cities or industrial zones around Mandalay or Yangon. And they do return home to their families (mostly elderly persons) and taking into consideration that the young population can be a major carrier & infection factor of the coronavirus it would easily get infected the older population which has one of the highest mortalitiy rate.
And since most of them do live in the rural area with little access do any healthcare (not even to talk about beds, protective suits for the doctors or ventilators it would be a certain death for their families.
My questions is: do you want to spend the next year the Thingyan Holiday if your family? Then stay home because next year you might not have one!
I have found out one day in advance before coming in Myanmar that a health formulare will be distributed in the plane; Germany (as I had a visiting history in the past 14 days) was one that list as well). I have decided of course to say all the cities I have been in the past 14 days from Doha, Berlin, Brussels & Dubai and Zanzibar as I am trying to be as honest as possible. And then on the arrival day we have found out that we will be put in 14 days quarantine in a local hospital and we have followed their rules without any complain as many myanmar people do while they are returning home ( I miss my man & dad: I want to see them! or the facility is not as good as the one in UK in terms of services and so on!)
The reason we have to do the home or the hospital for the 14 days even if you don’t show any symptoms (liked us) is to protect the others from not getting sick! The reason is not YOU – The reason are the Others! And it seems many coming back at too selfish to understand that!
Since Monday and new case of coronavirus in Myanmar has emerge. A student from UK who came back on 21st March via Bangkok – as the probably took an flight with a longer layover in Thailand and then did not declare it when he arrived in Myanmar. Now he might have probably got his brother & relative sick and as well some friends he probably meet during 2 days till he got quite sick.
As U Wai Phyo Han asked as per below? How could he got away with the 14 days hospital quarantine facility in Myanmar? We hope to find an official answer in the next days.
“We have asked the respective officials how he got through the government’s quarantine process at the airport,” said U Wai Phyo Han as per the Irrawaddy news.
3.Follow Official Government Statements
In terms of communication to the later public I have seen a very good approach from the Myanmar Government to try to inform their citizens regarding the Coronavirus in Myanmar and health & measure related virus. On the ground the situation might be a bit different (due to lack of resources mostly but from my point of view they are doing their best they can with the needs they have.
4.If High Fever & Cough: Go to Doctor & Clinic
I know that many myanmar people do rely more on the local medicines when they are sick as the lack of medical facilities and the low level of trust in the medical system makes them to trust more the popular remedies (starting from food related & local herbs). Even when the high rank politician get sick they go abroad to Singapore or Thailand for treatment. Taking into consideration that this is a newly virus best option is to go straight to the clinic.
Contact Phone Numbers to inform if you find any suspected cases of convi-19 in Mandalay Region
– Dr. Khin Kyaw (Dy. Head, Mandalay General Hospital) – 09444029096
– Mandalay Region Public Health – 02 4065659, 02 4033173
– Dr. Nwe Ni Aye (Asst. Director, Division Health) – 09 970365491
– Dr. Cho Nwe Aung (Team Leader) – 09 698670634, 09 5191959
– Dr. Nyein Nyein Chit (Team Leader) – 09 786059809
– Dr. Nan Oo Hlaing (City Hospital) – 09 977277372
1) Public Health Emergency Operation Center (Nay Pyi Taw) – 067-3420268
2) Regional Department of Public Health (Yangon) – 09-449001261, 09-794510057
3) Regional Department of Public Health (Mandalay) – 09-2000344, 09-43099526
4) Health Quarantine Unit (Yangon International Airport) – 09-799983833
5.Monastery is for Shelter only.
I have seen many people praising the the allocation of some monastery into a facility for coronavirus infected person in Myanmar or only quarantine. Even if it’s a laudable solution if no medical staff to handle the sick person it would make the thing even worse. Image having 1 person infected and without proper medical car in 7 days all the person in that shelter will be infected.
From my point of view Monasteries are good for shelter during war time, flooding or other natural disasters.
6.Spread Facts not rumors & Fake News
Media outlines are in dare need for traffic in order to sell more advertising and make more many. People are in need of social appreciation and for them a few likes more will make them go to sleep happier! Before sharing a post even if it’s from a friend side try to find if it’s true or not. Fake post like – another people got sick in that hospital or in that township – will make people panicking; can lead do accidents and of course will lead to panic buying which has only 1 effect: price increase and the scarcity of the that product.
7.Stop Panic Buying
Minutes, I mean not even 5 minutes after the first official post regarding the first coronavirus case in Myanmar photos on Facebook were showing the local store of CITYMART which is 24h open (they are 1-2 in whole Yangon) the store was full with people trying to get as much food as they can (from noodle packs to cooking oil and different kind of cans).
I mean – taking into consideration that in a crowded place they are bigger chances of getting infected and the food you have bought for you might not be good as we must go to a hospital for a 14 days quarantine? It was just waste of time & food and money. And maybe you have took the food from a person whom might really needed!
8. Hand Eating – try to minimazine it
It’s still a widespire culture at least in the rural area for people to eat the food with the hand only; of course they do care about and wash their hands but the chances of transmitting the coronavirus will increase a lot. Try at least for this period to switch to fork & spoon and most important try not to share the same food kitchenware.
9.Bettel – BAN IT!
Probably the most disgusting think I have seen since my arrival in Myanmar. At first tourists think it’s blood on the streets and wondering how dangerous is this city?!
Even if some people (I have seen especially some taxi drivers) are spitting in a bottle most of the people still spit on the roads & out of their car and then the doors and the cars are quite dirty. Not to mention the chance of people get infection from touching it & carrying it in their houses from their sure. At taking into consideration that is not good for the health as well as it may cause cancer; these will lead to an increase change of death to the man which are using it!
From my point of view this is would be one of the best measure the local government (Yangon, Mandalay) can take during the coronavirus in Myanmar crisis!
10. Stop Complaining & Quarantine
While from the myanmar workers coming back from Thailand (as they businesses shut down in Bangkok and they have no work anymore), I might understand they lack of knowledge of the disease & transmision and the facility I did not understand at all the complains & waning of the Myanmar students coming back from UK especially.
Some tried to avoid the quarantine and lied about their travel history in order to go home straight and meet their family; as I do understand the family concept is very different in Myanmar compared with other western countries (more closer relationship, help etc), I don’t understand how stupid to be to come home without being tested & get guaratine as you might get your parents & friends sick and which might lead to their death!
Other complied about the lack of diversification of food (I am vegetarian so feed me accordingly) or that the hospitals are not well equipped compared with UK).
From my point of view even if the hospital are not as good as other people might use, they are doing their best!
11. Don’t Repeat Nargis Mistake
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. While the former government did not ask for help during for Nargis cyclone back in 2008 as they were afraid to be invaded. Because of that thousand of people have died even if they could have had a chance of survival if help was granted.
At this moment I don’t see any official statement of support from China or Japan due big countries which can support Myanmar in terms of medical supply, kit tests ( Singapore and China have donated about 10,000 kits in total so far but it’s too little) as if they are hoping that the coronavirus criss won’t affect them in the coming future.
Since China and Japan do have a lot of economic interests in Myanmar it would be easy to have the help give from this 2 big countries. And since China has already (almost) have defeated the China Virus as Trump likes to say it, it is in the position of given more needed medical supply to other countries, Myanmar included.
12 Wash Hands
It should have been no 1 but I believe everyone knows about is golden/shwe rule: wash had as much as possible after coming back from outside or meeting with persons to whom you had a direct contact.
To summarize a bit. Even if at this moment Myanmar is doing the best it can do (quarantine for almost all people coming from flight and home quarantine for the land border one) and it is prepared for a small numbers of infection (less than 1000 & 500 hospilazed) I don’t believe they are prepared for a number higher than the one mentioned about.
While Yangon & Mandalay are the most prepaid cities in the countryside, the flux of cases might lead to disasters! So the travel advice during the Water Festival it is the one to keep in mind the most!