Infectious disease expert warns Chinese community in Myanmar about COVID-19 pandemic
Published: Jul 24, 2021 12:34 AM
Zhang Wenhong. Photo: VCG

Zhang Wenhong. Photo: VCG

A prominent infectious disease specialist reminded the Chinese community in Myanmar to remain on high alert for the local spread of COVID-19, as Myanmar is seeing a new outbreak, with the daily number of confirmed cases increasing to around 6,000 this week.

The mortality in Myanmar's latest COVID-19 outbreak was about 3 percent, much higher than some other countries including the UK (0.09 percent) and Singapore (0.06 percent), Zhang Wenhong, head of the Shanghai COVID-19 medical team, said at a virtual meeting on Friday.

"Taking into account Myanmar's pandemic situation and its relatively inadequate medical resources, there's a high [infection] risk for local Chinese," Zhang noted, suggesting people there should be vaccinated as early as possible and decrease contact with others.

The COVID-19 meeting, jointly held by the Chinese Consulate General in Mandalay and the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shanghai government on Friday, attracted several Chinese enterprises and communities in northern Myanmar to participate online.

"There's no letting up," Zhang said at the meeting. The spread of the COVID-19 variants is speeding up as some countries have loosened the virus restrictions, and the vaccine inoculation rate varies in different countries, he said.

Ruili port in Southwest China's Yunnan Province links the country with Myanmar. Photo: VCG

Ruili port in Southwest China's Yunnan Province links the country with Myanmar. Photo: VCG

Zhang advised Chinese residents living and working in Myanmar to curb and control the virus in a way similar to China's response in the first half of 2020, the height of the pandemic in China. 

"To avoid possible transmission of COVID-19, companies should provide sufficient masks, manage employee dormitories, and place infected employees in quarantine in time," Zhang said. "Open the windows to keep the air fresh - there is a big risk of virus transmission in a room with windows closed and air conditioners turned on."

Zhang also reminded Chinese employers in Myanmar to get to know about the medical conditions of nearby hospitals, "in particular, whether the hospitals have enough oxygen equipment and respirators," he noted. "Oxygen is critical for the treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia."

Answering questions from representatives of local Chinese companies at the virtual meeting, Zhang suggested some companies could prepare oxygenators.

Myanmar is encountering an unprecedented virus outbreak. Within a month, the number of its daily cases has risen tenfold from 630 on June 22 to 6,701 on Thursday, according to statistics on the website of the World Health Organization (WHO).

A few border regions in China that are near Myanmar, including Ruili city and Longchuan county in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, experienced a resurgence of the virus earlier this month. Ruili reported 23 local infections between July 4 and 6, 17 of which were Myanmar nationals.

The Chinese Consulate General in Mandalay promised to try its utmost to ensure normal production and life for local Chinese at the Friday meeting. 

It also announced support for Mandalay's fight against COVID-19, such as helping to build mobile cabin hospitals, offering medical supplies and donating 100 million kyats ($60,900) together with Chinese-backed enterprises, said Chen Chen, consul general at the consulate.

Global Times

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