State Counsellor reports current situation of COVID-19 to public

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This is to report to the people the latest situation regarding COVID-19. The latest situation is what everybody knows already. The rate of positives discovered has not gone down immediately. This is because we have Test Kits that enable us to test quickly. Now we can do these tests on a wide scale. When we do the tests on a wide scale what we have found out is the fact that we found infections among those who do not exhibit any symptoms of the disease. This is what we have reminded the people right from the beginning. About two or three months ago, we said that about 70 per cent of the positive cases do not show symptoms of the disease. This we have reminded more than once; in fact, many times. However, I don’t know if the majority of the people took any note of this. Only now those who look perfectly healthy turn out to be infected and people became really surprised. However, the number of people who get infected from people who don’t show any symptoms of the disease is now increasing. The reason is that everybody thinks that coming into contact with these people would not result in getting infected.
That is why we need to take the view that we can get infected from anybody. This does not mean that we need to look at everyone with suspicion. What I mean is to look with vigilance. Now we are gradually coming to know how to handle this disease to protect ourselves. At the same time, we are finding out more what needs to be done on a wide scale. For example, we have come to know that we need to establish rules and regulations from transport vehicles and what kind of agreements need to be established between regions and states. When these transport vehicles travel from one place to the other, there is fear among our people that the disease could be carried by the drivers and the persons accompanying these drivers. There can be spread of infections of course. Why? The reason is that we have found out positive cases among some of them when tests were carried out.
However, what I want our people to take note is not to get over-anxious and worried if you find out that you are positive. I want to say that your immunity level can go down if you worry too much. I want to remind you about this. The reason is that yesterday I had a discussion with someone who had recovered from COVID disease. The patient was not that young; 66 years old. This patient also had underlying diseases. This person had diabetes, and the kidney was not that good; the basic health condition was not good; not very young anymore. If we look at this person from all angles, we have to categorize that this person would be in a precarious position if this person became infected with COVID. However, this person recovered quite quickly. There were no signs of worry or anxiety. So I asked. How did you face the disease? How did you overcome the challenge? I liked your answer very much. The answer was quite simple and straight forward. “You need to devise your own plan”. This person told me that once you become infected, you need to know what attitude to take and how to change your lifestyle. I liked this answer; furthermore, I was quite interested. That is why I am thinking of making a few changes in the educational programmes regarding COVID. Now we have programmes three times a week. Beginning from next week, Q and A sessions with veteran specialist doctors will be for two sessions and one session will be reserved for interviews with our people who have recovered from COVID disease.
How did these patients face the disease; how did they overcome the disease; and what was the best way to overcome this disease? Once our people know this, then they would not become overly worried if a family member became infected, if a friend got infected or even if they themselves go infected. No matter what, if you know how to live your daily life, if you had followed the rules and regulations in the first place, you would not become infected. However, if for any reason you become infected with the disease, there are ways to overcome this disease. In addition to what the Ministry of Health and the Union Government are doing to help, there are ways that you yourself can do. So we have decided to initiate this new programme because we want our people to know this fact. I think people would be interested. Another thing is the fact that those patients who have recovered from the disease can help in a certain way; there is one method of treatment available whereby the blood plasma from a recovered patient could be used for treatment. The recovered patient must be willing to donate the blood plasma. It is like donating blood. If this could be done, there could be a realization that becoming infected with the disease could turn out to be beneficial for others. That is why I want to urge all of you to help in any way you can.
I think plasma donation is not only good for one’s health; one could get a great deal of satisfaction by donating for the health of others. So, make contributions whenever possible. The Union Government is taking care of people’s health as much as possible. It seems to be a boast to say that the medicine we are using for our people is the medicine for the US President in the treatment of COVID-19. I am not confident of pronouncing the name of this Remdesivir. We have bought this medicine from India, and its government has also donated the medicines.
It is used for patients with serious conditions due to some limitations. At this moment, we are not in a position to use it for all patients. We will purchase more stocks of this medicine for more patients. We will use this medicine for patients who are in need. While we are working for containment and treatment of this disease, we have to carry out economic recovery plans like in the disease.
We are trying to control impacts on the economy and treatment for recovery in the business sector. The government has to consider the reopening of factories and industries because it is important not only for the owners and workers of the firms but also for the country’s economy.
In addition, we have adopted the list of priority for the business sector during COVID-19 outbreak. For example, the government is encouraging the construction sector as it is required for the long term infrastructural development of the country. It can also employ many people. Moreover, it is easier for construction workers to adhere to healthcare guidelines compared to other workplaces. After all, rules and regulations play the most crucial role in containment of this disease.
The number of cases is highest in Yangon Region. Its dense population has led to widespread infections of the disease. Infection rate is rising in some townships of other regions. Actually, the disease is under control in most of the townships in different regions and states. We need to maintain this situation.
I have already reported that this is the time of our General Elections. Our citizens abroad have begun advance voting. The figures from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs show that 109,470 Myanmar people have filed Form 15 application forms for advance voting in foreign countries. To date, 27,917 persons have cast their votes, and the process is ongoing. Advance voting will begin at Myanmar missions in foreign countries this weekend. The process is going smoothly, although we have encountered some difficulties.
One of the difficulties for overseas voters is the rules of respective countries, especially in countries with no Myanmar missions. We have to solve their problems as much as we could by conducting negotiations with the respective governments so that our people would not lose their voting rights.
Plans are also being made at home for free and safe voting of our people. We think a plan submitted by the Union Election Commission will ensure safety and satisfaction for our voters. We have planned the advance voting for people over 60-year of age in the areas under Stay-at-Home order. There are two benefits of this plan. The first one is for the health of these elderly persons as they are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 due to their age. Therefore, we are going to implement this plan for elderly persons.
The second benefit of this plan will help to reduce the number of voters at the polling stations on election day. The social distancing of 6 -ft apart from each other could be practised to avoid close contacts among the voters. It will be safe for all. The government will distribute masks and face shields to the voters.
The UEC has agreed to this plan for the townships under the Stay-at-Home order. It will ensure the safety of elderly voters. I could also cast my advance vote under this plan. We are discussing advance voting of elderly persons in townships with large populations, in addition to the townships that are included in the Stay-at-Home order. We will have to discuss the conditions for this plan, for example, the range of the population in these townships. We will announce to the public once we have decided.
Therefore, the Union Government is trying to make the process smooth and convenient. We invite public participation. Whenever we are talking about COVID-19, we need to express thanks to the health workers. Some health workers from states/regions with lower infection rates are being invited to places with a higher number of cases. We thank all of them and those in the areas with many cases. Our people already know that some of these health workers have been infected. I also pray for their immediate recovery. I believe our people would make similar best wishes for their health, just like me.
The Union Government will issue the required rules and regulations as needed. Such rules are not to restrict the freedom of the people, but to control the spread of the disease. If the disease is believed to be under control, the relevant ministry will inspect the factories and workplaces for reopening. Resumption will be allowed for the factories and workplaces which follow the rules and directives.
Therefore, I urge our people to have the firm resolve and constant vigilance. Don’t be too anxious. I want you to believe that you can overcome this disease even if you get infected. In next week programme, people who have recovered from this disease will recount their experiences of infection and recovery. So, when people hear about how this huge challenge has been overcome, people who are feeling anxious and worried about this disease and people who are infected with this disease, their relatives and their friends – all of them will feel a sense of relief. I believe this would be of practical help and support.
I want to repeat again. Don’t be over-anxious. Be extremely vigilant. We are thinking about this disease every day, continuously, all the time, for the safety of our people. I want to say that we are making strenuous efforts for the people’s health, economic well-being, and politics, the elections are, of course related to politics. We are working hard to be able to fulfil all of these needs.
I pray for your good health, well-being and success. (Translated by Kyaw Myaing, Aung Khin)

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