Between The Fascist Junta And COVID19 Myanmar Faces A Catastrophic Healthcare Collapse
In Myanmar, the population faces a two-prong attack, from an illegitimate ultraviolent fascist junta and COVID19. As COVID now ravages through towns targeting the most vulnerable the junta's ultra-violent forces continue to wreak havoc on the economy and health care system. While it claims to have the best interests of the population the junta has proven it lacks the essential instruments to govern, either due to malice, incompetence, or a lethal mixture of both.
At least 1.5 million people have been vaccinated according to regime media but the actual number is difficult to verify. Medical experts on ground say the number could be far less than announced. The country currently has vaccines donated by India, China, and Russia, and an additional two million doses were recently purchased from Russia. The junta also announced plans to buy another seven million doses. Myanmar's vaccination program was launched by the ousted civilian NLD government on January 27, less than a week before the coup d'etat disrupted the country.
What went wrong in Myanmar?
Since the coup d'etat, the junta has mismanaged the country's health care system, nearly collapsing it by saturating it with injured protestors. The former head of Myanmar's COVID-19 immunisation programme, Htar Htar Lin, was arrested and faces charges of high treason for promoting democracy. She and 11 other doctors were arrested for supporting democracy and allegedly organizing with the ousted and legitimate government of Myanmar, they may face long term imprisonment or death. Doctors and other medical workers have been at the forefront of a Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), leading strikes that have paralysed official and private business. Dozens have been arrested and hundreds more are wanted. 157 healthcare workers have been arrested, 32 wounded, 12 killed since February. A significant number of medical staff has also fled the country or into the jungle after the junta increased repression against pro-democracy dissenters. A number of healthcare staff and volunteer medical workers have also refused to return to work to avoid collaborating with the fascist junta.
The number of people being tested for COVID19 has also dropped due to fears of being arrested by the junta at testing spots. Oxygen is also running low across several townships and people have been reported to be dying due to a lack of it. The elderly are especially being affected by the virus and are reportedly the majority of the dead so far. Furthermore, the junta has placed several medical points to be staffed by the military, many of whom lack the proper training or expertise to deal with the pandemic. All and all the junta has been an unmitigated disaster to the healthcare system and the handling of the pandemic.
How is the junta handling COVID19?
According to the junta-controlled Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS), as of last month mutated strains of the virus, including the Delta variant, have been tearing through the country. At least 165,405 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Myanmar since the virus was first detected at the end of March 2020. At least 3,419 deaths have been attributed to the virus nationwide although medical experts on the ground have show skepticism and believe the some of the deaths attributed COVID-19 deaths may have been people murdered by the junta. As of Saturday, Bago, Sagaing and Yangon regions have reported the most coronavirus cases. Bago has recorded nearly 1,900 cases in the past seven days, Sagaing nearly 1,700 and Yangon almost 1,500. Since late May, the military regime has locked down 26 townships nationwide and an increase in hospital admissions and deaths is expected.
While the regime has continued to administer some vaccines, it is now desperate to restart the economy it collapsed through its illegal take over. It is currently attempting to force people to return to school and work despite the specter of COVID19 creeping faster and faster across the nation.
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