UN warns of ‘devastating consequences’ of Covid wave in Myanmar

Bangkok Desk, Jul 20 (EFE).- The United Nations’ office in Myanmar warned that the current wave of Covid-19 was expected to have “devastating consequences for the health of the population and for the economy” of the country, which has plunged into chaos after a military coup in early February.

In a statement issued on Monday night, the agency highlights the “very limited testing” of between 12,000 and 15,000 per day, as a result of which “many cases are expected to be unreported” and warns that “access to hospital beds and oxygen is limited due to insufficient supplies and manpower.”

“The immediate scaling up of the provision of critical health services and Covid-19 vaccination efforts, remains an urgent priority,” the UN adds.

Health authorities reported 5,189 new Covid-19 cases and 281 deaths on Monday — the highest daily death toll since the start of the pandemic — taking the total to 234,710 infections and 5,281 deaths.

However, Myanmar medical associations say that these figures do not reflect reality given a precarious health system that is completely overwhelmed and crematoria working on a piecemeal basis.

Myanmar, whose ousted democratic government had handled the coronavirus pandemic between September and January with relative success, is experiencing a deep political crisis as a result of the Feb. 1 coup that ended the nascent democracy in the country.

The security forces have arrested and persecuted healthcare workers who are on indefinite strike and refuse to work under the orders of the military regime.

On Monday, at least five doctors were arrested in Yangon, the country’s biggest city and former capital, after receiving a fake call, allegedly made by soldiers, to request assistance, the Mizzima media outlet reported.

Nonprofits and opposition groups also accuse the military junta of hoarding oxygen cylinders, banning their sale to the public and using Covid-19 as a weapon against dissent.

“A renewed ‘whole of society’ approach is needed now more than ever, allowing all health professionals to work in safety, and both public and private providers enabled to contribute to the response” against the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN office urges.

However, the rift between the population, who demand a return to democracy and the release of its civilian leaders, and the authorities, who have fired to kill peaceful protesters, is gaping.

At least 919 people have been killed as a result of a brutal crackdown by security forces, according to the latest data from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. EFE


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