State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson of the National-Level Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), held a videoconference from the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday, with pioneers combatting COVID-19.
The participants in the discussions were Professor Dr Mar Mar Kyi from the Insein General Hospital, who is running fever clinics, U Aung Kyaw Moe who is working for social cohesion and Daw Nan Zin Han Oo who is producing and selling cloth masks on a small scale.
In her opening remarks, the State Counsellor said that there were multifarious tasks in handling COVID-19; work was being done from many angles; and that this crisis could be overcome only with individual efforts which would translate into collective strength emerging from many directions.
She commented that she liked the manufacture and sale of cloth masks; at this time the country needed businesses to be operating as much as possible; the business model should also be in line with the situation in the country; at this time if unnecessary products were produced no one would buy them; people were trying to make ends meet so they did not have money to spare; therefore they would spend their money only on essential items; thus it was very fitting and proper that only essential products were manufactured during the COVID period.
Professor Dr Mar Mar Kyi reported how the community-based fever clinic was established and operated; providing medical tests for the people; prevention of infection from patients; and establishing fever clinics within townships in the Yangon region according to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Sports.
U Aung Kyaw Moe talked about production, distribution and awareness campaign for the use of hand gel in Maungtaw and Buthidaung townships of Rakhine State in line with the guidelines of MoHS; encouraging hand washing practices among the public; setting up call centres for COVID-19 prevention; preparations being made for cloth mask production and distribution. He also talked about the need for the Union Government to put in more contents about combatting COVID for the dissemination of public education messages via phone operators.
Then Daw Nan Zin Han Oo briefed about making cloth masks on a small scale and selling them; how she had learnt to make cloth masks from online websites; and how her customers preferred to choose masks with nice designs and colours.
In response to the discussions, the State Counsellor remarked that controlling of infection from person to person was the most important thing to be done as a first priority; that there would be no problems if individuals followed rules and directives; that it was important to detect symptoms of COVID-19 disease; and that if early testing could be done, the patient could be put in quarantine to reduce exposure to others.
She added that the biggest challenge of COVID-19 is that it cannot be estimated how long it would last, and that people could feel safe only after the discovery of the vaccine; that it would be possible to declare complete victory over COVID-19 only when a vaccine that could prevent COVID-19 infection has been developed. She said this was something that Myanmar would not be able to do but efforts were being made; to look at this matter pragmatically, big countries which had more financial, scientific and technological resources had more likelihood of finding ways to prevent and treat this disease. She continued to say that it was very difficult to estimate how long it would take to find a cure for this disease; normally it would take about two years to produce a vaccine; however as the COVID-19 disease was very important, they were trying hard to find a cure soonest; they would, of course, need some time to find a cure.
The State Counsellor said that at this time the economy must keep on running; because of COVID-19, the economy slowed down; in some places, it came to a halt; it was important for everyone to work hard to the best of one’s ability to jump-start these businesses.
In making her concluding remarks the State Counsellor said she was very encouraged because everyone had joined in to help; this issue cannot be addressed by the Ministry of Health and Sports alone, and that it was not enough even with the cooperation of other government departments; she had said repeatedly that people’s participation was needed; people were the key; each citizen must participate; this disease spreads from one person to the other; then the disease spreads to others; that was the reason why each citizen needs to take care not to get infected by this disease.
She added that this disease could be overcome if care was taken to make sure that another person was not infected because of oneself; habits need to be developed although there might be difficulties; although it is said that physical distancing was necessary, human nature was such that humans wish to stay in close proximity; it could not be said that this was bad; in normal times, behaviours such as cohesiveness, friendship and warmth, and children playing together should be encouraged; however since these were not ordinary times, it was necessary to take care of the children; if they were going to play in close contact, it was important for them to wash their hands; if it were not possible to forbid the children from playing in close contact with each other, the spread of infection could be controlled to a certain extent by making the children to keep their hands clean and to wear masks. She continued by saying that she was very grateful to all the people who had joined in to help out; she wanted everyone to work in unity; if problems arose there were solutions; all that was needed was to seek out the solutions; that was why she was confident that the problem could be overcome with collective strength if the solution was sought in the proper manner.
She ended by saying “Please stay healthy. It is important to be healthy”.—MNA (Translated by Kyaw Myaing)