State Counsellor makes public report on control measures against COVID-19 situation

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As I report to you about the COVID-19 situation today, we cannot say that the infection rate in the Yangon region has gone down. That is why I wish to remind the people, especially those who are in the Yangon region to be extremely careful. This type of disease spreads especially in places where people gather and congregate. That is why for example we have closed down schools. The spread of infections occurs at training schools, monasteries, nunneries, and home for seniors, all those places where people meet and gather.
When we look at where the spread of infections occurs, in what kinds of situations, we need to talk about the spread of infections in the communities, wards and villages. The spread of infections occurs mainly among those who travel. Now that we are able to test drivers going long distances, we find that some who look healthy and strong have been infected. That is why let me say again. I think I have said more than 200 times. However, let me repeat again. There are many people who do not show symptoms of the disease. They have the disease but don’t show symptoms. This may be because they are fundamentally healthy. However, if the disease spreads from those who are fundamentally healthy to those whose health conditions are not good, then it could be very dangerous for them. That is why we need to think about others and those in our environment, not only about our own health. This is very important.
When we say that we need to think about those who are in our environment, after we have become infected, do we need to be anxious and worried; of course, we need to be worried to a certain degree. No matter what we say. At present, there have been fatalities among young people because of the COVID disease. When we say young people, it is not related to their age. It has to do with whether they are fundamentally healthy or not; nothing to do with age. Sometimes because the disease is not too severe, their underlying health problem may not be easily known; when they have a fundamental weakness and the infection enters their body, their body may not be in a position to resist. I had said this when I was discussing this matter some time ago. We have made plans to get the best medicines for the people. This is Remdesivir, rather difficult to pronounce. We are using this medicine for people who are suffering severely from the disease, as much as possible. However, let me say that we don’t have a lot. At the moment, we can use this for our people only for a few thousand. Because we have medicines only for a few thousand, we will try to get more to the best of our ability. We also have medicines donated by India. Although we are doing our best for the health of our people, in the final analysis, the people themselves need to know how to stay healthy. That is the main thing. Therefore when we provide treatment using this medicine, we cannot guarantee 100 per cent. No matter how potent this medicine may be, there is no 100 per cent guarantee. Another thing is that at the present moment, we are not in a position to use this medicine for 100 per cent of the infected patients. We are doing as much as possible. We will try to get more of this medicine. In the end, the people themselves need to take care of their health. What I wish to remind again is not to be over-anxious. If you become over anxious and worried, your immunity will go down.
At the moment, plans are being made to allow the resumption of operations for factories and workplaces which are in a position to do so. What do we mean by “being in a situation to resume operations”. We mean factories and workplaces which are in a position to resume operations in accordance with the rules and regulations and standards and meet the “A” level criteria prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Sports. “A” level means they are safe and secure. We are working to reopen these factories and workplaces so that they could resume their operations. We are working to allow them to resume operations not only for the short-term but also for the long-term health of our economy.
At this time, if the factories, especially those operated by foreign investments, were suspended for a long time, it will not be sure that their investments remain here. The loss of investments will damage our economy and the livelihood of our workers in the long term. That is why I want these factories and work places to be reopened as soon as possible. However, for the resumption of operations to happen, the main thing is for these employees to follow the prescribed rules and regulations. It is the duty of owners of factories and workplaces as well as the duty of each individual worker. We have already issued guidelines spelling out in detail the kind of situation that should exist in the factories and workplaces for everyone to know. Our people will be safe if they follow the guidelines strictly. In the end, this is the thing. We will be able to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease if the simple and straight forward rules and regulations issued by the Ministry of Health and Sports are followed strictly and in detail.
Our people already know that we have been conducting public awareness programmes on the containment of the disease. If possible, listen to these programmes. Only then will you know the real situation. Then you won’t have to worry about unnecessary things. Some persons have a lot of unnecessary worries and anxieties. That is why we are doing these things because we want people to understand that there is no such thing as being too vigilant or too careful. Just as we have been saying so many times, our country is facing two major challenges—to hold the general elections and to overcome COVID-19 successfully. Regarding the duration of COVID-19 crisis, experts have estimated a vaccine could be produced in the near future. They say that the vaccine will be available for use. However, I do not wish to say that this is 100 per cent sure. However, many health experts have concluded that the production process has reached the final stage. Meanwhile, I want everyone to be vigilant and bear in mind that until we reach that stage, there is still a danger everyone can get infected. Those who have been discharged from hospital after recovery are still under the threat of the pandemic. Up till now, there is no guarantee that you cannot get infected for a second time. That is why please be vigilant.
Regarding discharge from the hospital, we are making sure that patients can be discharged more expeditiously according to the standards of the World Health Organization. We want to make sure we don’t go below these standards. When we say we want to discharge the patients quickly, it does not mean that we do not wish to provide treatment to the patients who have already been infected. We are saying this because we wish to be in a situation whereby we can provide more care to the new people coming in. The disease is still spread up to now. Actually, it is to offer healthcare services to the other confirmed cases. More beds are needed for new patients. Another thing is to create a situation whereby our healthcare workers, to whom we owe tremendous gratitude, can cope with their duties effectively. Although the number of positive cases is surging, our healthcare workforce is not increasing. Actually, a limited number of health workers are trying to provide proper care and treatment to increasing numbers of patients.
As I have said before, the general election is also a major challenge for the country at this time. Although this is a challenge, I want to say that this is also an opportunity for the people. The people know already that advance voting has begun in foreign countries. Today, out of 109,470 registered overseas eligible voters, a total of 50,520 citizens have cast their votes. Voting is continuing at Myanmar embassies and consulates in some countries. The elections have begun in foreign countries. Elections will begin in our country shortly. As our people know already, to ensure that people above the age of 60 can cast advance ballots in safety and effectively free from COVID infection. This will also prevent congestion at the polling booths. Those who are able to move about and walk can cast their advance votes at the office of the election commission. We can make arrangements for doing advance voting at home for those who are not able to go to the polling stations because of their health condition. Advance voting can also be cast at the hospitals and quarantine centres for ensuring the voters not to lose their voting rights. Therefore, eligible voters can cast their votes under these programmes as it is important for the future of our country, while the COVID-19 outbreak is an ongoing crisis. Another thing is this, even if not for a long time, at least for the next one to two years, just as our Union government is working to prevent economic damage, I would like to request the people to live healthily, as a way of joining our efforts. May you all be able to live in good health. Thank you all. (Translated by Kyaw Myaing, Aung Khin)

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