Adapting COVID-19 health guidelines is a must for humanitarian sector in confronting dual disasters

With the rain-induced swollen rivers and creeks, floods hit low-lying areas in lower Myanmar and governments and organizations are putting disaster preparedness and response plans into action.
Burst riverbanks and mudslides have left people displaced across some parts of Bago Region, many of them now seeking shelter in temporary accommodation centres.
While pressing ahead with plans for a potential “double disaster” where the coronavirus adds to seasonal problems, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and local governments in flood-hit regions delivered relief supplies to the flood-hit people in a timely manner.
The flood season is demanding regional governments and communities to prepare a joint response to COVID-19 and flooding, without increasing the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
To protect those being affected by such a crisis amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, our current disaster readiness plans have focused on quick response to disasters, preparedness and rehabilitation.
Local governments are obliged to stockpile supplies including food, medicines, live saving equipment and fuel for the compounded threat. Meanwhile, residents in risk areas should be alerted to make their own preparations.
In this time of dual-crisis, people in disaster zones are highly advised to prepare more than ever and should not hesitate to take shelter in a way that reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection and other communicable diseases. Everybody has a role to play in the pandemic.
Maintaining social distances between people in the shelters and ensuring the safety of volunteers and staff are challenges at the temporary shelters.
If a lot of people gather in a small evacuation center and somebody is infected, other people can be possibly infected with the COVID-virus.
Hence, our disaster evacuation plans should also enforce the health guidelines of wearing masks, washing hands, monitoring temperatures and maintaining social distancing as they are the most effective interventions to prevent the COVID-19 infection and other communicable diseases.
Another critical component of preparedness is also fighting rumours related with the Coronavirus infection which could emerge with the infection news.
We have already anticipated that rumours related with the Coronavirus infection could emerge with the infection news.
People are advised to be calm in the face of the dual crisis of the COVID-19 and flood as the infection is preventable and curable. People are the key to tackle the challenges brought by the crisis.
All in all, our country’s response to COVID-19 pandemic is in the hands of duty conscious people and the authorities.

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