By Khin Maung Myint
It is undeniable that the medical professionals and the volunteer rescue workers are doing great jobs in battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak of this dreadful disease in our country early this year in March, they had been risking their lives to save others by controlling the spread of the disease valiantly. It must be recognized that they managed to control it during the first wave. What they are doing is very commendable. Such heroes are known around the world as “Corona Warriors” and have no match to their courage, dedications and sacrifices.
Acts of selflessness
In March, when the first infected person, a returnee from abroad, was traced to the Chin State some young doctors volunteered to go there to help the local medical staffs. Those acts of selflessness on the part of our young doctors had drawn my attention to their selfless dedications to their profession.
Then, the number of cases increased as more returnees from abroad were found to be infected. More young doctors including those who are not in the employment of the government also volunteered.
Also, the volunteer rescue teams too were busy assisting those medical professionals who are battling the disease on the frontline. Both the medical professionals and the volunteer rescue workers are at great risks of contracting the disease themselves, but they courageously and selflessly carried on with their jobs relentlessly.
Some of the medical professionals and volunteer rescue workers contracted the diseases trying to safe others, but their comrades are unperturbed. Their courage, dedication, selflessness and their professionalism are un-parrelled to anything we had ever witnessed in any other profession. Here, I would like to point out that the type of courage these professionals display is moral courage, which is very rare.
Some undesirable elements tried to sabotage the battle against the pandemic by promulgating infodemics on the social media that a certain doctor and a nurse from the Mandalay Region who volunteered to come to Yangon had succumbed to the disease. That turned out to be false. It can be deduced that whoever did that wanted to scare away the would-be volunteers. However, as far as I know they didn’t succeed; volunteers are still coming. This is a very lowdown political tactics to be used at such times like these. It is totally unacceptable, whatever motives are behind them.
The authorities too had meticulously prepared to meet the challenges of the pandemic during the months ahead, before our country was actually struck in March. Here, it should be accepted that, though the authorities had prepared before hand to confront the virus head-on, there may be some shortcomings in the beginning. We had heard of the shortages of medical equipments, especially the ventilators and the PPE outfits.
Those shortcomings were immediately corrected. Many generous donors, both locals and from abroad, sprang up to the occasion donating cash and equipments that had to be bought from foreign countries. In no time the disease was put under considerable control. For over two or nearly three months the numbers infected and died stood still at a respectable position among the countries in the region. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) gave credit for that achievement.
Unfortunately, the second wave, which the authorities had been anticipating and thoughtfully been ardently warning the populace, struck. It all started in the Rakhine State. Being close to the countries to the west, where the spread of the disease are alarmingly very fast, that state had to bear the brunt. The rapid and timely counter measures taken by the authorities managed to control the spread in that area to a certain degree.
However, thousands of travellers from those areas had already dispersed to other parts of the country before traveling bans were put in place. There was no idea how many who travelled overland had reached to other places, but the numbers that came by air numbered over five thousand. Most of them failed to report to the authorities, so the contact tracing was made difficult. Thus the surge in numbers of those infected increased and naturally the daily death rates increased too. Also the virus had managed to change into a new strain that is now more faster in spreading.
One of the reasons why the death tolls rose is, because some people secretly tried to treat themselves at home. They went to the hospitals at the last moments only when they couldn’t stand the disease anymore; by then it’s too late. They died almost immediately after arrival at the hospitals or within a few days.
The second wave spread faster. The hospitals were caught unprepared to cope with the sudden surge in the number of patients at first. Here, our young generation doctors and nurses came to the rescue. Many doctors and nurses from some States and Regions, where the virus were less active volunteered to go to places that were hard hit.
Volunteer medical professionals
After the first batch of volunteer medical professionals went to Rakhine as reinforcements, other volunteers from some other States and Regions followed suit to aid those combating the disease at the hospitals in Yangon. Yangon Region, especially the Yangon city proper became the most severely hit within days of the emergence of the second wave.
Thanks to the philanthropist donors, many facility quarantine. and temporary makeshift hospitals sprang up in Yangon. More and more donors emerged to do what they can to relieve the burden on the government. Those donors donated everything from makeshift hospitals, allowing their buildings to be turned into temporary hospitals and facility quarantine centres, essential hospital equipments, beddings, other necessities and foods for the patients at those hospitals and for those placed under quarantine. Some donated ambulance cars to the fire brigades and volunteer rescue teams.
I deem all those mentioned above — the medical doctors, nurses, volunteer rescue workers, philanthropists, donors and last but not least, the authorities who are efficiently directing the combat against the COVID-19 pandemic — to be heroes in their own rights.
As heroes their endeavours, their dedications, their selfless sacrifices and their courage should be acknowledged and honoured. After all these are over, in appreciation of their good works, considerations should be made to bestow those who deserve with rewards. If I may make a suggestion, some sort citations should be created to honour them. I salute each and everyone of the corona warriors.