Myanmar Crippled By COVID19 Surge And Lack Of Oxygen

Myanmar -

Myanmar Crippled By COVID19 Surge And Lack Of Oxygen

Myanmar reported a record number of COVID-19 cases and deaths on Wednesday July 14, 2021, as it suffers its most severe wave of infections so far.

Citing the junta ran health ministry figures, state-run MRTV reported that there were 7,089 new cases and 145 deaths from COVID-19, a sharp rise from the day before. It is believed more infectious variants of the virus are now in circulation in Myanmar. With a lack of testing and a collapsed healthcare system, the virus is tearing through communities.

Why is the virus hitting Myanmar so hard?

The fascist coup in February 1, 2021 has caused Myanmar’s hospitals to collapse and sabotaged its vaccination and testing campaigns. On Tuesday, July 13, 2021, at least 4,047 cases were confirmed by the junta-controlled ministry of health and sports. The total Covid19 caseload is currently 201,274 infections and growing rapidly. In total, 5,014 COVID19 deaths have been officially recorded with many more unaccounted for. Almost 90% of the country’s townships have reported cases of the virus. 

 

What's going on with the Oxygen

Queues have formed at oxygen plants nationwide, as Covid19 has spread rapidly across the country. People risk arrest for gathering after dark, a violation of the curfew rules in some areas. Social media is flooded with pleas for help, however that help is arriving too late for many. Some previous posts calling for help have long been edited to inform it is too late.

 

 

There is limited access to overstretched hospitals and oxygen is become scarce as the demand soars beyond the available means for production. Isolation centres have been set up, with bamboo mats lined up inside tents, for those with mild symptoms. People are being forced to decided whether to seek help from the junta and risk arrest or stay home, and risk infecting others. Since the junta's campaign to take power, many public-sector workers who have protested against the junta have been evicted from government housing and were forced to live in crowded conditions amid the pandemic.

 

The junta blames its victims

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing proclaimed on television that it was true the country was “a little short of oxygen supplies”, but blamed the public for allegedly panic buying tanks. This comes after the junta destabilized the country creating a shortage in oxygen in the first place. The junta leader also claimed that people reporting on the junta's failure to contain the virus and its criminal actions towards those seeking Oxygen, were “people with malicious intentions towards our country’s politics”.

 

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 businesses. 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. Several medical staff and volunteer medical workers have also refused to return to work to avoid collaborating with the fascist junta. 


 

Military spokesperson Zaw Min Tun previously said that restrictions had been put in place for private-owned oxygen plants, to prioritize supplying junta run hospitals over individuals. On Monday July 12, 2021, junta forces opened fire to disperse a line of desperate people queuing to buy life saving oxygen in Yangon. The vast majority of patients, including people with severe disease, are opting to stay home to avoid the junta's repression. They are either self-treating, or relying on care from local doctors operating in secret.

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