Intensifying Covid-19 wave sparks oxygen crisis in Myanmar

Bangkok, July 15 (EFE).- Myanmar is battling an acute shortage of medical oxygen as Covid-19 has spread rapidly amid growing doubts about the ability of military dictators to manage the crisis.

The health system is on the verge of collapse due to strikes by doctors and nurses who have joined a nationwide civil disobedience campaign against the military that seized power on Feb.1.

Like in other regional countries, the delta variant of the growing number of coronavirus infections has overwhelmed the healthcare infrastructure in the nation of 54 million people.

Health workers detected more than 7,000 cases on Wednesday, marking a significant increase in the number of daily infections from less than 20 in the first two weeks of May.

The situation has worsened amid a sluggish vaccination campaign.

Official newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar, controlled by the army, said the Kalay city in the north of the country was facing severe medical oxygen shortage.

The military dictator, General Min Aung Hlaing, had earlier denied that there was an oxygen supply crisis in the country.

Military junta spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun Monday said hospitals, clinics, and quarantine centers were full and that new patients were admitted based on their severity.

He said the government had ordered oxygen factories not to sell the gas to individuals and supply it to government hospitals, clinics, and quarantine centers.

He claimed the restrictions were to stop people from hoarding oxygen.

Any individual seeking to refill empty oxygen cylinders would need permission from health officials, he said.

He denied the reports that the military had raided oxygen-producing factories in Yangon.

However, critics accuse the military dictators of causing more deaths with such restrictions that have prevented the treatment of severely ill patients as charities struggle to help the needy.

“They do not even refill oxygen for emergency use by ambulances so we have stopped our ambulance service,” a charity worker from Botatung Township in Yangon told The Irrawaddy.

He said charity workers failed to get a patient admitted despite taking him to many hospitals in Yangon.

“Finally, we took him back home. He died the next day. There have been many cases like that,” the worker said.

Crematoriums are overflowing in Yangon as hundreds of people succumb to the virus daily.

The Irrawaddy claimed it found 731 bodies were cremated at three major cemeteries in Yangon on Tuesday.

China has imposed more border curbs over its frontier with Myanmar amid an intensifying Covid-19 outbreak.

The restrictions have severely hit medical supplies.

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