COVID-19 infections are on the rise again as Myanmar’s medical system struggles

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COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Myanmar as the country faces an acute shortage of medical staff and medicines, and aid groups warn of growing complacency against the deadly virus.

The Ministry of Health of the State Administration Council (SAC) reported 189 daily infections on Sunday.

A total of 9,378 lab samples were tested, the ministry said, of which 2.01% tested positive for COVID-19, the highest number of daily infections this month.

Of the 189 people who tested positive, 173 were locally infected, while the remaining 16 were infected in other countries, according to the statement from the SAC Ministry of Health.

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Myanmar’s health care system has been struggling since the coup on February 1, 2021. Most doctors have joined the anti-junta civil disobedience movement and no longer work in government hospitals. There is also a dire shortage of medicines and oxygen, with prices doubling since the coup.

A housewife in Yangon told RFA she feared the resurgence of COVID would result in a death toll similar to the latest wave and said she thought people had become complacent.

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“Although people have been vaccinated, they are infected. Many people have died from the Coronavirus, so we need to learn a lesson from what happened in the third wave and stay safe,” she said.

“People forget to wear masks and even when they wear one, it’s just on their chin. We need to remind each other to wear masks.”

Social aid groups in Yangon, which often volunteer to help people with serious health conditions, also urged people to follow the rules and regulations related to COVID-19.

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Since the start of the COVID outbreak in Myanmar in late 2019, some 616,663 people have been infected and 19,442 people have died, according to the Ministry of Health.

The highest daily number of infections was 6,093 on July 21, 2021, according to Reuters, which stopped updating the data in July this year.

According to the US-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, only 64.5 million vaccine doses for the coronavirus have been administered in the country of about 55.2 million inhabitants.