State Counsellor reports on containment measures against COVID-19

Chairperson of the National-Level Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi reports to the people regarding the COVID-19 latest situation.
I think our people are following the news regarding the situation of rise and fall of COVID-19 infection rates on a daily basis inside our country. They are studying and trying to get the news. If they have been trying to get the news and studying, they will find out that a certain amount of control has been achieved during the past few days. The reason we have been able to maintain a certain amount of control is because of the cooperation of everyone. The healthcare workers are, of course on the front lines; however, what is most important is the fact that each individual citizen has abided by the regulations.
At the moment, we have over 30,000 persons who have been infected with the COVID-19 disease in our country. Out of these 30,000 persons, 45 per cent have been discharged from hospital. They have recovered after receiving treatment. They have left the hospitals. However, there have been some fatalities among them. Since over 700 have died, we can say it is 2.4 per cent. When we look at the situation of the people who have died, about 95 per cent are those who have other underlying diseases. That is why it is extremely important to be fundamentally in good health. We have repeatedly been saying that those who have fundamental health problems and weaknesses need to be more careful.
Another thing is that among those who died, 19 per cent were brought to the hospital after they have lost their lives. It was found out that these dead patients were infected with COVID-19 disease after they were tested upon arrival at the hospital. 19 per cent is not that small. Among those who died, since 19 per cent of the patients were dead on arrival at the hospital, I wish to remind again that it is very important to go to the hospital or the relevant Ministry of Health and Sports as soon as symptoms become visible at an early stage.
Our country will be strong only if each individual citizen is strong. At this time as we have been able to achieve a certain degree of control, I don’t want you to slacken your vigilance. From being able to achieve a certain degree of control to arrive at a situation when we have total control would indeed require a great deal of effort. However, this is a good start, and it gives us strength. I want you all to continue making strenuous efforts with the belief that we can do it if we really make serious efforts; and that we can really be successful if there is a will. From the part of the Union Government, as we have said repeatedly, we will do whatever we can. We are working as much as possible to take care of the health, economic and social needs of the people and also to give the people a feeling of comfort and security. From the side of the people, I want to request that each of you will try to stay healthy as much as possible.
With respect to providing treatment, we are using the latest and best treatment protocols being used at the international level. We also use medicines. No matter whatever medicines we use, no matter whatever treatment protocols we use, in the end, the most effective method is for each individual citizen to take care of his or her health. At this time, when we are facing the onslaught of COVID-19, we need to continue our efforts to make sure that essential parts of the governmental machinery are running. As I have said before; we have to keep our eyes on the economic situation. We have to view the situation with a long-term economic vision. That is why we have given permission for certain factories to resume operations if they can meet the rules and regulations. The reason we have given permission is that we are making efforts with the future economic situation in mind.
Another thing is that apart from the fact that we are looking after the people inside the country, we also have to look after our citizens who are living in foreign countries. That is why, although we are facing the second wave of COVID-19 inside the country, we have not suspended our programme to accept our citizens who wish to return. They are continuing to return. If we look at the overall situation, more than 10,000 citizens have returned by air since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Over 200,000 returned from across the border. In total it would be about 250,000. These are our citizens returning; more will continue to come. We are making plans to bring them back by air, more and more, day by day, according to the requirements. We will never ignore and turn our backs to our citizens living abroad because we are having problems at home.
At the same time, I need to talk about the elections. The reason is that I want to express my deep appreciation to our citizens abroad with respect to the elections. I have said that the general elections have begun. It started in foreign countries. Our citizens have been casting their advance ballots in foreign countries at our embassies, consulates and missions. The number of advance ballots cast is now over 60,000. I want to express my appreciation to our citizens from abroad for performing their duties as citizens dutifully with enthusiasm. We are also making plans to enable our citizens inside the country to cast their votes in security and with enthusiasm. On the 13th, I went to inspect to see what kind of arrangements need to be made at the polling booths. This is a test run. What will we do on the real election day; we need to protect the health of the people; we also need to encourage the right to vote; we also need to ensure that the whole process runs smoothly. At that place, I found out ways for performing some of the processes in a smoother and quicker fashion. That is how we shall proceed.
The reason we wish to do these things quickly is to avoid the people from gathering; the way to protect ourselves from the COVID disease is to avoid people from gathering. People need to stay at a distance from each other. This is because we will be taking the temperatures of the voters who come to cast their votes on Election Day at the polling booths as soon as they arrive. We have also made arrangements from the health viewpoint for any person found to have a temperature higher than the prescribed temperature. However, the more we can avoid the crowding of people, the better. That is why we have made arrangements for the voters to stand in line six feet apart. We have studied in detail to determine what kind of rules and regulations need to be prescribed so that voters do not have to stand in line for long periods and so that they can leave the polling booths quickly.
We will have another training session on this matter next week on the 20th. After the test run, we will examine our findings. After examination, we will issue the rules and regulations for the elections. This will be done by the Union Election Commission in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Sports. When we do this, we are not going to do in the same manner for all places. We will carry out special programmes for stay-at-home townships and townships which have high infection rates of COVID. At townships, where the COVID infection rate is negligible, the normal procedure will be followed. However, we will make arrangements for masks to be worn and for cleansing of hands. We will carry out these operations in such a way so that in stay-at-home townships and townships which high infection rates of COVID, we will prescribe effective and reliable protocols such as wearing of face shields over the masks. That is why I want our citizens to participate with enthusiasm in the general elections and cast their votes. I want to request all of you to also participate enthusiastically in the COVID prevention efforts.
May all of you be able to stay in good health and in the peace of mind. Thank you. (Translated by Kyaw Myaing)

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