Myanmar sees record virus cases as Rakhine State becomes hotspot

Myanmar sees record virus cases as Rakhine State becomes hotspot

A volunteer checks the temperature of a man at the entrance of Sittwe Hospital, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar on Monday. (Reuters photo)
A volunteer checks the temperature of a man at the entrance of Sittwe Hospital, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar on Monday. (Reuters photo)

Myanmar reported 70 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, the highest one-day tally since the virus was first detected in the country on March 23, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports.

There had been no local transmissions between July 16 and Aug 16, with about 200 infections detected since then. The majority of cases are residents of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, and 75% of them are asymptomatic, according to the Ministry. With the latest cases, the Southeast Asian nation’s total count reached 574.

“We have noticed the rate of infections in Rakhine State has risen quickly and expect to see many more cases in the coming two weeks,” Khin Khin Gyi, director of emerging infectious disease at the Health Ministry, said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Sittwe is along the Bay of Bengal, in the western part of Myanmar and south of Bangladesh. It has a large population of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

“Rakhine State has become the hotspot for infections so we assume the new variant of Covid-19 named D614G is spreading there, originating from a market,” Khin Khin Gyi said.

The official warned, citing epidemiological findings in other countries, that the new strain “could spread 10 times faster”, so the government will tighten entries and exits from Rakhine State. The government will also send in more medical workers and volunteers, strengthen capacity of hospitals and step up contract tracing and testing in public hospitals and laboratories.

About 13,000 doctors and thousands of nurses stand ready at over 1,300 public hospitals across Myanmar to provide treatment in the event of a spike in cases, Khin Khin Gyi said. Business capital Yangon, Myawaddy and Rakhine State are considered “risky areas”, she said.

Myanmar has a population of about 54 million, and has borders with Thailand, China, India, Bangladesh and Laos.


Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (6)

Coming home

American basketball star Brittney Griner released in a prisoner swap with Russia for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and later jailed in the US.

8 Dec 2022

Koreans about to become one year younger

SEOUL: South Korean lawmakers have approved a measure that would revise the way the country tallies a person’s age, ending a system that counted newborns as a year old and meaning that most of its citizens are about to get younger.

8 Dec 2022

Bangchak to make jet fuel from used cooking oil

The SET-listed energy conglomerate Bangchak Corporation plans to make biofuel for aircraft, also known as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), from used cooking oil through a joint venture with a 200-million-baht budget, in a move to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

8 Dec 2022