06/30/2021, 13.41
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Another priest dies in Kalay from COVID-19

With a spike in cases, hospitals are collapsing due to a lack of staff and oxygen. In some cities funerals are the order of the day. Meanwhile, fighting continues between Myanmar’s military and local militias. Aung San Suu Kyi calls for caution towards the virus.


Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Another priest has died of COVID-19 yesterday in the Diocese of Kalay, north-western Myanmar. Fr Martin Suan Khan Mung is the third priest to succumb to the coronavirus.

According to Radio Free Asia at least 181 people have died in the diocese in June alone. In areas that saw a surge in cases, like Kalay, funerals are the order of the day.

COVID-19 “deaths at home are more common,” a source explained, adding that “There aren’t enough doctors and nurses or oxygen at the hospitals – that's why people want to treat their sick at home”.

“A few days ago, over 20 people died in a single day. And most of them died of COVID-19,” a resident noted.

Myanmar’s military recently imposed strict measures to contain infections in at least 11 cities, requiring people to stay at home and not leave their municipality of residence.

According to official data, 1,312 new cases were reported yesterday, but experts say the figure could be much higher.

Between February and early June, only around 1,500 to 2,000 tests were administered per day.

Since 12 June, daily testing is up again to between 3,000 and 7,000, independent newspaper The Irrawaddy reported. Before the military coup in February, the average was 17,000 tests.

Meanwhile, the country’s health care system is now collapsing. The government’s vaccination campaign started in January, but after the coup many doctors and nurses refused to administer the second dose in protest.

Pro-regime media have reported that three variants of the virus have been identified, including the Delta virus, which appeared initially in India.

On Monday, when Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in court for another hearing, she asked about the country's health situation.

Ousted State Counsellor “told the lawyers to be careful of COVID-19, reminding us to wash our hands and wear masks,” lawyer Min Min Soe said. “She also asked to send the same message to the people to be more cautious of COVID-19.”

Against this background, violence and fighting continue across the country. A report by the International Crisis Group warns that “The regime’s heavy-handed, indiscriminate retaliation has displaced tens of thousands of men, women and children”.

What is more, “The fast emergence of militias, and their capacity to evolve from loosely coordinated groups of local people into more structured, better armed and sustainably funded forces, likely marks a new phase of Myanmar’s decades-old civil war.”

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