Taunggyi COVID-19 Lab Opening Delayed Until August

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The opening of a laboratory to test for the novel coronavirus in Taunggyi, capital of Shan State, has been delayed after crucial supplies didn’t arrive on time.

Dr Poe Poe Lin, who heads the virology department, said plans to open the lab in mid-July have been put on hold until next month. “We are trying to buy the necessary materials, and I’ve heard we should be able to get them by the middle of August,” she said, explaining that during the COVID-19 pandemic it’s difficult to get these things.

Once opened, the lab will be able to detect if patients have developed COVID-19 by checking their tissue samples. Other viruses can also be detected at the lab. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Dr Myo Tun, minister of social affairs for Shan State, said they don’t have enough to cover the monthly operating costs for the lab. “We need to buy 46 things and need 280 million kyat (US$206,136) a month to run the lab. But we don’t have enough money, so we will report it to the Union government.”

Once the lab is opened, Dr Myint Thein, the head of Sao San Tun Hospital in Taunggyi, said tissue samples from Shan State and Kayah State will be checked for the coronavirus.

Another lab planned for Taunggyi hasn’t opened yet either, as well as one in Lashio. The only laboratories capable of testing for COVID-19 in Burma are in Yangon, Mandalay and Mawlamyine.

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