26 March 2020
The Ministry of Health and Sports in Myanmar on 23 March announced two positive cases of coronavirus infection within the country. This is the first two cases found in Myanmar since the beginning of the outbreak of COVID-19 in the world. On 25 March, one more case was confirmed to be tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number to three. The two persons, who had returned from the UK, are in Yangon, and another who had returned from the United States, is in Chin State.
Being informed the positive cases, the citizens of Myanmar are afraid of the pandemic and at such a time, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her capacity as the Chairperson of the National-Level Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19, delivered the message to the citizens not to get into a panic, but to remain calm and follow the advice of the health authorities on COVID-19.
“As soon as the news that two persons have been found to have been infected with COVID-19 came out, some people began buying foods, medicines and household items in panic. There is no likelihood that we will run out of stock. If you go into the crowd to buy these commodities, there is more likelihood that you will get the disease. People are the key to prevent the spread of this virus; the ability of the people to remain calm plays a pivotal role. I want to inform that the government has no plan to shut down necessary public services, markets or commodity centers. It is also advised that only one person should go for buying, instead of going in groups and that only the quantity that is really needed should be bought. Fake news is floating around that enterprises, factories, workshops will be closed; and that entry and exit points to townships and villages will be closed. Please do not get panicked by such news”, said State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar is welcoming back the nationals working in Thailand, as well as the students studying abroad. They are advised to stay at home or a designated place in a responsible manner for home or facility quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of the disease. Just as in the saying “report early, know early, benefits everyone”, State Counsellor urged the citizens to report to health centers for any necessary cases. All those who had contacts with the infected persons are requested to report to the health center at the earliest.
Community-based volunteers are also helping in any way they can. Public awareness raising programs, placing the basin at the crowded bus stops to wash hand, spraying the pesticide at the markets are being carried out. Yangon Rescue Organization is also participating in social activities in a bid to prevent COVID-19.
Daw Than Than Soe, East District In-Charge of YRO, said, “We clean the conventional markets by spraying pesticides. We are distributing the awareness brochures to the public. We are to raise public awareness programs for the people not to panic, and to prevent the infection by staying at home if possible. If you have to go out, please follow the health guidelines. Keep your hands clean.”
For the people, who are worried about the shortage of the commodities and the increase of price, the government has also claimed to take responsibility to control these situations.
Ma Htun Thuzar Khin, owner of rice and oil selling shop, said, “Rice and oil are locally produced, so, there is no reason for the shortage. Moreover, goods are already stored at the wholesale sheds. For all the goods we have in hand, we sell with regular price. There is no increase of price in rice and oil.”
The State Counsellor mentioned that people are the key when preventing and fighting against the pandemic.
“Based on responsibility, accountability and transparency which are the basic fundamental needs of good governance, our government will release up-to-date information in real-time all information that the people need to know. People are the key”, she said.
Thaw Tar Swe Zin
Photo Credit - Myanmar State Counsellor Office