As COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment is national concern, awareness campaign must be conducted continuously and requirements must be fulfilled in time through coordination

Nay Pyi Taw  September  15

Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing led a coordination meeting on providing aids for pandemic COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment and fulfilling other requirements held at the meeting hall of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army) here this morning.

Present at the meeting were Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Commander-in-Chief (Army) Vice-Senior General Soe Win, Union Minister for Defence Lt-Gen Sein Win, Chief of the General Staff (Army, Navy and Air) General Mya Tun Oo, Commander-in-Chief (Navy) Admiral Tin Aung San, Commander-in-Chief (Air) General Maung Maung Kyaw and senior military officers. 

The Senior General in his keynote address said the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 were found in Myanmar on 23 March and the infection rate was not high till early August. On 31 August, the number of positive cases exceeded 800 and on 14 September it exceeded 3,000. Hence, the infection rate became higher and over 2,000 people were infected during a two-week period. The Tatmadaw has been continuously monitoring infection of the virus and fulfilling the requirements through coordination since the infection started in Wuhan. The Tatmadaw has also emphasized the practice of the social distancing, the operation of factories with the lease workforce, and the restriction of travel for ordinary cases, except from must-do cases. It also gave other advices. The Tatmadaw also postponed the 75th Anniversary of Armed Forces Day Parade, which was of vital importance for it, after taking into account the various perspectives. 

There was awareness to a certain degree in the country during the early period of infection. As there was no significant rise in the infection rate later, the degree of responsiveness waned, and the people started to deal the virus lightly in May, June and July. During the time, certain neighbouring countries were facing a sharp rise in the number of confirmed cases. Infection rate abruptly rose in Rakhine State in the last week of August. Till 8 am today, there were 3,299 confirmed cases in the country, 790 were discharged from hospitals, and 32 died of the virus. Yangon Region has the highest infection rate with 1,847 positive cases, followed by Rakhine State with 740 positive cases. The Tatmadaw must also make necessary preparations.

COVID-19 has impact on the businesses. Although the impact is not so much noticeable for State service personnel, grassroots may be facing hardships. Hence, the Tatmadaw has been providing four basic items – rice, cooking oil, salt and gram for grassroots, people of theatrical performers, music and art professions, media organizations, athletes and other persons with no regular income at the respective military command areas. It is also providing assistance for war veterans and retired police members. 

The Senior General said the Tatmadaw gave a helping hand to farmers who faced difficulties due to lack of selling domestic goods in suspension of commodity flow based on outbreak of COVID-19 and damage of crop plantations based on climate change. Moreover, the Tatmadaw donated medical supplies for prevention, control and treatment of the disease to people’s hospitals in regions and states, district hospitals, station hospitals and rural health centres. Supplement nutritious foods are donated to patients and their associates and health staff. In addition, foods and meals are sold at affordable prices for convenience of patients and their associates. Tatmadaw members, families and people are to individually abide by guidelines released by the Ministry of Health and Sports. Although vaccine for COVID-19 is being produced, as gene of the virus in 2019 and that of current virus cannot be the same, such vaccine cannot give precise guarantee for treatment.

The most basic factor to control outbreak of the disease is to follow the discipline, practise personal hygiene and environmental sanitation. So, everybody needs to live neat and tidy in good lighting and ventilation. Only when, every living being built with blood and flesh should take care of themselves, will they be healthy. And, it is necessary to raise health awareness of not only themselves but also family members and people to be able to have health conscientiousness.

With regard to treatment sector, the Senior General said the Tatmadaw bought medicines and medical supplies. As COBAS 6800 analyzers using in testing HIV, hepatitis B and C of Tatmadaw members can be conducted for testing symptoms of COVID-19, information was released to give necessary help. But, some criticisms were committed over the Tatmadaw. In order to take preventive and control measures of the disease, the Tatmadaw accepts the patients in quarantine at Nay Pyi Taw Transit Centre, the transit centre in Hlaing Township of Yangon Region and respective military commands. Preparations have been made at the Defence Services Liver Specialty Hospital for giving treatment to the patients. As life of human is the most important, the Tatmadaw gives a helping hand to all as much as it can.  The Senior General stressed the need to give health care services to Tatmadaw members and families. Preventive measures must be taken effectively for keeping them free from danger in infection of the disease. Last night, the Central National Level Committee for Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19 issued an announcement for service personnel to discharge duty at office for two weeks and at home for two weeks. As such, the Tatmadaw must follow it. In so doing, military operations and defending must not be harmful to prevention, control and treatment of the disease. Out-break of the disease is of very importance, so all the measures must be taken immediately.

Then, those attending the meeting reported on endeavours of region and state COVID-19 control and emergency response committees, raising of awareness of disease prevention, control and treatment through TVs, radios and newspapers on a wider scale, update news on infection of disease, death list and recovery situations across the world till this morning, infection of 46 patients from the Tatmadaw—18 persons abroad and 28 at home, 
testing the virus by RT, PCR and COBAS 6800, distribution of the machines to Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, Kengtung and Sittway for conducting the tests, arrangements being made to buy more machines to be distributed to PyinOoLwin, Aungpan, Mawlamyine, Monywa and other necessary sites, prepara-tions and rehearsals of the military hospitals for the disease, infection of 3,299 patients across the nation at present. If infection rate cannot be controlled, it can be reviewed that infected number of patients may reach about 16,151 at the end of September and about 240 in the Tatmadaw.

They also reported on following of the orders and instructions on COVID-19 at Tatmadaw training depots, 7.84 percent infection among COVID-19 suspected patients in Myanmar, 0.36 percent infection among those in quarantine, 14.7 percent infections among those in close contact with confirmed patients, 3,299 confirmed cases of 197,794 tested lab samples accounting for 1.67 percent, 375 confirmed cases of 136,153 tested lab samples accounting for 0.27 percent and six deaths before 16 August when local transmission started with a bank employee in Sittway, 2,924 confirmed cases of 61,641 tested lab samples accounting  for 4.74 percent after 16 August, 155 affected townships across the country with 401 cases in Sittway Township and 274 cases in Thingangyun Township, an average of 25,962 infections per day in the United States and 20,761 infections per day in India in the global community, 1,140 infections per day in the Philippines and 1,108 infections per day in Indonesia in ASEAN countries, 375 infections in Myanmar in the first wave from 23 March to 16 August but in 2,924 infections in the second wave from 16 August to date, so about 97 more cases are seen daily, importance 
of public participation in the control of the disease spread and warning against health system collapse as cases increase among health staff. 

They then reported on installation of ICUs at Tatmadaw hospitals, production and distribution of PPE suits, masks and face shields for children produced by Tatmadaw factories, readiness for Tatmadaw quarantine sites to admit 9,550 civilians and 64,51 already been put at those sites and 524 currently at the sites, upgrading of the military hospital in Meiktila  for admitting COVID-19 patients in upper Myan-mar, Tatmadaw’s donations of medical supplies for COVID-19 on the tours of the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services and the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services since 23 March amounting to over Ks-390 million in medical equipment for local people, over Ks-430 million in medicines and medical equipment for ethnic regions, over Ks-60 million for social organizations, over Ks-170 million for religious organizations and over Ks-740 million for war veterans and retired police, and collection of over Ks-4.5 billion daily wage out of their monthly salaries from Tatmadaw members and civilian appointees for COVID-19 control and treatment measures, spending of over Ks-4.2 billion and the remaining over Ks-300 million for systematic spending.

They also reported to the Senior General on the production and distribution of medical equipment 
by factories and workshops of Myanmar Economic Corporation and Myanmar Economic Holding Public Company Limited, operations of the factories and workshops in accordance with requirements, launching health awareness-raising campaigns and distribution of medicines and medical equipment in remote areas by respective military commands, distribution of different meat, fish, eggs and vegetables produced by agriculture and livestock breeding farms of the Tatmadaw not only to families of  the Tatmadaw but also to local residents at cheap prices and plans to speed up the tasks, transpor-tation of medicines and medical equipment by Tatmadaw aircraft and helicopter, preparations for the readiness of naval ships and hospital vessels, security measures for factories and workshops of the Tatmadaw and instructions for members of Tatmadaw families not to go out except for inevitable matters and issuance of guidance by respective military commands, and the Senior General attended to the needs.
After hearing reports, the Senior General said it can be assumed that the chances for coronavirus to survive are enhanced in the moist and cool season as the number of COVID-19 cases has surged in August and September and it is necessary to be more cautious as the cold season is around the corner. As there are local products in respective states and regions, it is necessary to render assistance in real-time so that the economy of local people will not be affected by the halted or stagnant commodity flow of local products and seasonal produces. It is important to report to the local battalion headquarters if there is difficulty in the transportation of local products.
It is vital to carry out maintenance tasks of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines systematically as they are essential for diagnoses and operators of such machines are required to be healthy. It is necessary to continue to purchase more reagents required for the diagnosis. In using masks, which are important for the prevention of COVID-19, it is vital to use quality masks that can really provide safety. It is necessary to distribute three-layer masks instead of cheap but unsafe ones that cannot prevent the disease actually. If reusable masks are istributed, it is important to disseminate the methods for using them systematically. It is important to carry masks wherever one goes and the best way to prevent the disease is to wear masks when one has to communicate with people in the surroundings.

As the Tatmadaw is in the defence line of the country, all service personnel and family members are required to be fit and healthy and to render necessary assistance for the country and the public in real-time. Regardless of different attitudes toward the Tatmadaw, it is pivotal to actively cooperate with departmental personnel and the people in the prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19 as the Tatmadaw is responsible for protection of the lives and property of the people. As commanders on the ground have been permitted to work on their own discretion in offering assistance for prevention and treatment of COVID-19, they are required to take necessary measures in real-time.

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