More than 20 healthcare workers were quarantined in Tachilek public hospital in eastern Shan State after a Yangon-based doctor was recently confirmed to have COVID-19.
According to the report from the Ministry of Health and Sports, the 96th official patient to contact coronavirus in Burma is a surgeon, who allegedly picked up the virus from another confirmed patient. He was working in a Yangon hospital, but his wife had been working in Tachileik as a doctor. He had visited Tachileik and met with staff about the possibility of work in Tachileik’s hospital between April 6 and 10.
Dr. Myo Tun, Shan State’s minister for social welfare and the official spokesperson for the state’s anti-COVID-19 committee, told SHAN that 21 medical staff had recent contact with the patient, including 10 doctors and the head of the hospital. They have been tested and their swabs are being prepared to be processed at the National Health Laboratory in Yangon.
Dr. Myo Tun added that the 96th COVID-19 patient had been transferred to a hospital in Kengtung on Monday. Since he had traveled from Yangon to Tachileik on a Myanmar Airways flight on April 6, at least 11 other passengers have also been quarantined and are awaiting test results.
Those sent to fill in at Tachileik hospital are from the military, the social welfare minister said, and include two specialist doctors, four assistant doctors and six nurses from the Burma Army’s medical corps.
“Twelve medical staff from the army’s medical corps will join the Tachileik hospital, so the hospital can operate with these staff. People do not need to worry about it… people in Tachileik do not need to be scared,” Dr. Myo Tun said.
While the Tatmadaw’s medical staff are being transferred to public hospitals, ethnic armed organizations’ medics have been recent targets of military violence. On April 15, SHAN reported that Burma Army troops had attacked Shan medics working with the Restoration Council of Shan State in Mongpan Township as they were providing wellness checks and coronavirus awareness in Nar Won village.
The military is at the forefront of Burma’s national COVID-19 emergency task force, which is headed by military-appointed Vice President (1) Myint Swe. This committee is tasked with a wide range of responsibilities, from investigating possible coronavirus cases to implementing quarantine to halting the spread of “misinformation.”
As of Sunday, the Ministry of Health and Sports had confirmed 111 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Burma, along with five deaths and seven recoveries. Due to low rates of testing and poor health infrastructure, it is speculated that the actual number of infections may be much higher.