NAY PYI TAW July 9
A coordination meeting on COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment was held at the meeting hall of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army) in Nay Pyi Taw this afternoon, with an address by Chairman of the State Administration Council Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
Also present were Vice Chair-man of SAC Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Commander-in-Chief (Army) Vice-Senior General Soe Win, SAC member Lt-Gen Moe Myint Tun, Secretary Lt-Gen Aung Lin Dway, Joint Secretary Lt-Gen Ye Win Oo, Union Minister for Planning and Finance U Win Shein, Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr Thet Khaing Win, Chief of the General Staff (Army, Navy and Air) General Maung Maung Aye, senior military officers of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army), the deputy minister for health and sports and officials.
In his address, the Senior General said COVID-19 outbreak began in some countries in the late December 2019 and early 2020. The virus arrived Myanmar on 23 March 2020. Infection rate was low during the first and second waves. But, infection rate is high in the third wave that began in late May and early June this year. The country must continue its necessary prevention measures as showing worries alone is not enough. There are two parts – prevention and treatment. Infection has been detected in 296 townships out of 330 in the entire country. People must strictly follow the directives issued in connection with COVID-19 and they must avoid crowds. In case they have any inevitable task, they must take necessary preventive measures in carrying it out. They must embrace a healthy living and eating habit to improve their immune system. Now, schools have been temporarily closed to prevent the formation of crowds. Constant awareness has been taken in preventing and containing COVID-19 as it is an important task of the country.
As regards the accelerated efforts for production of vaccine and vaccination, the Senior General said, “We have bought medicines for prevention and treatment sector. The previous government had also bought vaccines. The country bought 30 million doses of vaccine from India. The first batch of two million doses arrived in Myanmar.
Later, some unfavorable circumstances appeared. Especially, India was difficult to give vaccines to us because it restricted infection of the pandemic. We have paid cash in advance for 30 million units of vaccine. We have paid US$-75 million. During the period, China provided vaccines to us. And, some donors presented small amount of vaccines to us. On my arrival in Russia, I met with the Minister of Defence of Russia and the
Secretary-General of the Security Council of Russia and demanded the vaccines. They immediately fulfilled my needs. When I asked 2 million units of vaccine, they promised me to give the vaccine. The problem was that they did not have much production capacity of vaccines. It is because they distribute the vaccines to the world. So, they could not supply in whole. They deliver vaccines in batches to us. It is sure to get the vaccine. They gave a promise to start sending of vaccines to us this month but they could not predict how they can export the stocks to us but they can announce the amount when they start exportation. They said number of vaccine would be tens of thousands of units. So also, China provided medical aid and vaccines to us and sold five more millions of vaccine units to us. Then, we allowed private hospitals and companies to import COVID-19 vaccines. So, it would not be enough for vaccine. Myanmar’s population reaches 55 million. The directive mentions vaccines must be given to those of more than 18 years old. So, it will be effective. If the vaccine saves for the people, we will arrange vaccination to those people. Now, it was not decided the age for vaccination yet. We will do vaccination depending on declaration of the countries which produce vaccines. As we buy not too much amount of vaccines, we arrange the Myanmar Pharmaceuticals Industry to manufacture the vaccines if it has capacity. In this regard, Russia has agreed it in principle. They agreed to cooperate with us in production of vaccine. But, they requested us to visit the factory to decide things how to run the production. So, we invited them to pay visits to us this month as quickly as possible. Not only Russians but also those from the field of cooperation measure will come to us. But, I’d like to note that as current infection in Myanmar is some serious, they are urged to consider their trip. So, I mention matters related to the vaccine. And, we need to vaccinate the people with the use of bought ones as soon as possible. It is necessary to vaccinate the people on course without remaining vaccines in hand.”
With regard to the treatment sector, the Senior General said: “For managing the treatment sector, all the hospitals are making preparations since last month. As I had doubt about it, I ordered all to prepare the hospitals. These tasks have been undertaken. We do not suspend it. Moreover, we urged all to do so. Responsible persons must give reports on preparations to us. And one more point, we find health staff face some difficulties in some places depending on the political trend. Whatever it may be, we will deploy those personnel to the suitable places if possible. Many health personnel will be assigned in the places where the number of staff is lesser. Otherwise, we will arrange the employment of medical doctors-through contract system. Continued implementation of this is also necessary. The Tatmadaw will also participate in the distribution sector. We will distribute on equal terms. Tatmadaw hospitals alone cannot cover it. This is the national cause for our country. As it has becomes the national issue, all must go to all places. I want to say that healthcare staff are urged to do this as necessary after making prompt calculations.”
He also stressed that manufacturing businesses and factories could not stop their operation due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In other countries also, mills and factories are still running. Thus, Myanmar needs to continue running the factories by following COVID-19 rules and disciplines such as wearing face masks, social distancing, systematic hand washing and keeping separate dining rooms. Agricultural activities will also go well if they are carried out with required preventive measures. As 185 million out of about 7.9 billion global people have been infected, it is still low in terms of percentage. Myanmar is not yet among the countries with highest infection rates, but necessary preventive measures must be taken without negligence. Most importantly, the prescribed COVID-19 preventive rules and disciplines must be exactly followed with sensibility so that infection rate can be reduced.
TV, radio and newspapers of the Information Ministry as well as private broadcasting and radio stations need to constantly air awareness programmes on the COVID-19 preventive rules. Meanwhile, supervisory measures are necessary. Apart from preventive and treatment measures, it is also necessary to make sure national economy does not decline. The Senior General expressed his belief that active, inclusive participation would achieve success in COVID-19 prevention.
Next, the Vice-Senior General, council members, union ministers, senior military officers and officials in attendance at the meeting reported on efforts to procure enough supplemental oxygen for infected people, designation of stay-at-home townships and campaigns about systematic movement of people in other non-stay-at-home townships, systematic supervisions by security forces, hospitals’ acceptance of infected patients, appointment of daily-wage outside workers to help with preventive measures, the special need to take preventive measures to reduce infections, the need for supervisions to reduce people’s movements in town-ships, wards and villages and ensure that everybody wears a face mask, dissemination of health knowledge with public members and necessary extension of awareness campaigns, spread of awareness to crowded places such as religious buildings and prisons, prioritization of elders, factory workers, bank staff and other private staff in COVID-19 vaccination, the need to continue operation of banks in accord with the COVID-19 disciplines so banking service cannot be harmed due to the pandemic, preparations to accept infected patients at military units and battalions for their treatment, and production and distribution of oxygen cylinders by Tatmadaw hospitals to ensue enough oxygen supply at hospitals. The Senior General then attended to the needs.
Then, the Senior General made concluding remarks, saying it is necessary not only to discuss but also to take measures constantly and priority should be given to prevention as it is of utmost importance.
As regards concerted efforts for prevention, control and treatment, the Senior General said that prevention is of utmost importance. If prevention fails, the burden will be heavy on treatment. Therefore, prevention is of utmost importance and it is better to give priority to prevention. Therefore, it is necessary to place emphasis on rules to be followed by the public. Another factor is cooperation and coordination. It is necessary to cooperate without discrimination. It is important to work for the health of a human being. We will have to provide healthcare services to anyone who has been infected. We will have to provide healthcare services to all. Responsible officials cannot refuse this. As I pointed out during the discussions on available human resources, we have medical corporals, medical sergeants and MAs. We can employ them. They have at least completed the third grade.
They can at least give injections. I pointed out this during the discussions immediately as it is necessary to take immediate action before forgetting it. There are such trained people outside. Announce to them to participate in volunteer teams as much as possible. It is better for the government to announce that those who have completed healthcare training are urged to contact relevant township administration councils and hospitals. It will be more effective and more volunteers will come. Myanmar people have a volunteer spirit. Unlike other countries, we have a social spirit. There are many people who offer assistance and save the lives of others. Therefore, if we are determined to achieve this, there is no reason not to succeed. Therefore, I would like to highlight that we can overcome the challenges if the emphasis is given to prevention and cooperation of the public with responsible conscientiousness.
Then, the Senior General said that it is necessary to follow COVID-19 restrictions strictly and prevent gathering crowds as there may be crowds as the full-moon day of Waso, Eid ul Adha Day and Martyrs’ Day are public events. It is necessary to have not only vaccines but also medicines for treatments. There are no limits in spending funds for prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19 and relevant ministries are required to take effective, correct and urgent action. Urgent measures are being taken to supply oxygen to patients and plans are underway to operate oxygen plants to their full capacity as soon as possible and to produce and supply liquid oxygen. Preparations have been made to use industrial oxygen plants. For example, the industrial oxygen plants of Myanmar Economic Corporation have arranged to supply oxygen. All the battalions and units in the entire country have been instructed to arrange places for people who are required to be quarantined. As battalions and units are located in most towns and regions in Myanmar, effective and comprehensive measures can be taken. Preparations have been made to deploy ambulances, to transport emergency patients in a timely manner. Plans are underway to use helicopters of the Tatmadaw where necessary. As I said, vaccines from People’s Republic of China will be delivered within a few days and vaccination will be carried out effectively. In conclusion, the Senior General said that preventive measures can be taken only if the central body knows the real situation of the entire country in real time.