Health officials discuss effective response to rapid spread of COVID-19

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Union Minister Dr Myint Htwe presides over meeting for controlling spread of COVID-19 on 9 September.   PHOTO: MNA

The Ministry of Health and Sports held a videoconference with medical personnel across the nation to effectively respond to the swift spread of COVID-19 yesterday.
Present at the meeting were Union Minister Dr Myint Htwe, the deputy minister and permanent secretary, the director-general of the ministry’s office, the rector of University of Medicine 1, deputy directors-general, heads of state and regional Public Health and Medical Services Departments, professors and department heads, medical specialists including those from state and regional hospitals, central field inspection members in Rakhine State and other officials.

Meeting agenda
The coordination meeting discussed a comprehensive analysis of Yangon Region and Rakhine State where COVID-19 cases are surging in addition to the other states and regions. They discussed the conditions of people currently being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals, need for more space to quarantine people who have been in close proximity to new positive cases in Yangon Region, expanding new patient wards in the COVID-19 treatment facility in Phaunggyi and the need to appoint new doctors, nurses and assistant professionals.
The meeting discussed using hospital tents in Phaunggyi if necessary, having doctors from the Department of Human Resources for Health assist in COVID-19 treatment activities, increasing lab tests in Yangon Region, monitoring for strict adherence to preventive measures and guidelines for COVID-19 in factories and workshops.
The meeting also discussed separating COVID-19 positive patients based on whether they have normal symptoms, underlying illnesses, are in critical condition or neither have symptoms nor likelihood of developing into critical health conditions. They discussed making use of doctors from the private sector volunteering in COVID-19 processes, the human resource, hospital space, quarantine facilities and finance required for the long term, the list of townships with high number of cases that should be considered for stay-at-home status, searching for people who have had close contact with COVID-19 positive patients, the physical and mental exhaustion accumulated as a result of prolonged quarantines, treating patients and containment measures.

Union Minister’s speech
Dr Myint Htwe said distributing medicine and medical apparatuses in a timely manner is critical for effectively containing the rapid spread of COVID-19 and failing to do so will delay many processes. The procurement and logistics sub-department needs to have daily reviews of remaining medicine and apparatuses at the central department and sub-national departments to ensure there is no shortage and procure supplies in advance as necessary. The time it takes to order supplies and reach dispensaries has to be calculated in addition to possible causes for delay that might arise.
The supplies must reach their destinations on time and there must be communication to confirm whether they have arrived or not. Videoconferences between medical professionals must continue on a regular basis and decisions pertaining to treatment must be carried out immediately. The central department will support other requirements and only matters of policy need to be submitted to the central department, said the Union Minister.
He said he would like teachers from institutions under the Department of Human Resources for Health to assist in COVID-19 processes in Rakhine State and Yangon Region since universities will be closed. It is important for volunteers to not contract COVID-19 while interacting with positive cases. Prevention guidelines must be systematically enforced in quarantined areas and public health activities. The Union Minister pointed out that over 70 per cent of people from Rakhine State, where the disease is rapidly spreading, who are currently in other states and regions may be carrying the disease while showing no symptoms and transmitting it to other people.
Dr Myint Htwe said it is a good sign that state and regional departments for public health and medical services are cooperating sub-national governments and affiliated departments and organizations. He said they are aiming to reduce the quarantine period from 21 days to 14 based on findings from the WHO and the United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and will relax other restrictions in line with international findings.

Meeting results
The meeting decided to coordinate with the Department of Medical Services and Department of Human Resources for Health to appoint their doctors in COVID-19 processes, maintain regular contact with the Central Medical Stores Depot and logistics to fulfil medical supply requirements, shutting down factories and workshops that do not meet prevention guidelines and conducting random checks on those that meet the guidelines in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, formulating a plan to increase hospital tents in Phaunggyi when necessary, following the definition for close contact with COVID-19 cases when making related decisions at hospitals and clinics, and preparing the dormitories and stadiums of the department of sports and physical education as quarantine centres in Yangon Region.—MNA (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)

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