Conflicts & War

Red Cross warns of impending Covid-19 danger in post-coup Myanmar

Bangkok, May 29 (EFE).- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that Myanmar faced “significant risk” of a future coronavirus wave after the restive nation halted testing following the military coup on Feb. 1.

In an email to EFE, the Red Cross said the country lacked the systematic widespread testing capacity for the virus and had a low number of vaccinations amid a reduced capability to monitor and track infections.

“There is a significant risk of a future wave of cases, which could go undetected initially given the large proportion of people likely to have either no symptoms or only mild symptoms,” the aid agency added.

After the coup, healthcare workers were among the first to join the civil disobedience movement against the military takeover.

Authorities responded by charging the medical workers with various crimes and arresting dozens, further diminishing the capacity of the country’s already poor healthcare system.

A total of over 144,000 cases have been recorded in Myanmar since the pandemic began, including 3,216 deaths, according to the health ministry’s data.

The numbers are not big enough for a population of 54 million people.

However, the number of daily tests has dropped from about 15,000 until January this year to about 1,500 to 2,000 currently that raises the suspicion that many infections are going undetected, the Red Cross said.

The rate of vaccinations, started in January by the then-democratic government led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has also slowed down after the coup.

The Red Cross attributed the slow vaccine rollout to the precarious healthcare system and the lack of medical staff partly due to the civil disobedience movement as well as the reluctance of the population to be vaccinated under the military junta. EFE


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