State Counsellor reports on measures against COVID-19

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Today, the most important thing I want to report to the people regarding COVID-19 is that the “Stay at home” order issued for certain townships is still in force; especially in Yangon. Just because we have given permission for some factories, workplaces, as well as factories and workplaces which are important for the economy in the long term, to resume operations if they abided by the rules and regulations that we have issued, does not mean that the “Stay at home” order is no longer in effect as some might think.
The “Stay at home” order is still in force. The rules and regulations are still in force. I request all of you to be patient and abide by the rules and regulations. In Yangon, we have been able to control COVID-19 as a start. This is only the beginning. I am not saying that the situation is under control. When I say we have been able to control the disease, as a beginning, the numbers have come down from the previous highest level. However, there have been ups and downs. It is not a continuous downward trend. It comes down, and then it goes up a little, then it comes down a little and goes up again. That’s why we can say that we have begun to control the disease. However, to be able to control completely, we need to continue our efforts.
When I said we need to continue our efforts, I don’t know if some of our people might feel stressed out. But we need to be patient. We need to steel ourselves and stand firm. This is the same all over the world. In some countries, they are even saying it is the third wave because the infections have spread far and wide. The situation in our country is not in the worst situation. But we are also not in the best situation. Before August, we could say that we were among the countries with the best situation. Now, we cannot say anymore. However, because we have been able to control the disease, as a start, we can say that this is great progress.
Now if we look at the data for the whole country in terms of numbers and percentages, Yangon Region is at the top. After that it is Bago Region. After that, it is Rakhine State and after that Mandalay Region. However, Mandalay Region does not rank fourth in terms of percentages; only in terms of numbers. Yangon Region , Bago Region and Rakhine State are on the high side both in terms of percentages as well as numbers. That is why the people in Yangon Region must continue to be vigilant. The people in Bago Region must also continue to be vigilant. The people in Rakhine State must also be vigilant.
As the COVID-19 disease stays with us for a longer period of time, we know that it has caused hardships for the livelihood of the people. So how should we assist our people. We are now making plans to begin another programme of assistance for the people. We will inform the people as soon as these plans are ready. We regret that we have not been able to assist fully 100 per cent. However, we will do as much as possible. This will be done as quickly as possible. This is from the economic side. On the health side, we have heard that there have been some shortcomings. For example, people who need to go into quarantine could not go into quarantine because arrangements could not be made in time; some people could not be admitted into the hospitals. We are considering these things so that we can fulfil the requirements of the people speedily; so that people can enter quarantine speedily; and so that people who need to be admitted into the hospitals can be admitted speedily. We are initiating new arrangements. We have been doing these things.
For example, in some cases, we have delegated people at the township level to make the decisions; the regional level authorities need not decide all matters. We will make new arrangements. For a case like sending people to quarantine, it could be done speedily if the township level could decide. Here I am talking only about sending people into quarantine. I am sure people would like to know how the situation will be in the long term. How the situation will develop in the long term, we ourselves cannot say definitely. However, I have said this before.
At the moment, in terms of medicines that are needed, as soon as we heard that vaccines have become available, we have contacted countries like China and India which have plans to produce these vaccines, to cooperate with them. That is why when the vaccines become available, our people will be able to use them. I am sure some of our people know what the experts have been saying about the vaccines. They have been saying many things. Some experts say that even if vaccines become available, there might not be 100 per cent guarantee. They say that vaccines would be more effective for people who have good health. Of course we can say this is true in all circumstances. A person with good health would be able to put up a better resistance to any type of disease. He would be in a better position to overcome the problem. That is why I want people to study about staying healthy during this COVID period.
This programme is broadcast twice a week. Questions can be raised to senior health experts and veteran doctors in the programme. Health knowledge would be searched on mobile phones. However, people need to understand that every health information online is not true. The UN has even reminded people to protect themselves from this type of misinformation. False knowledge and wrong information about health can pose risks on those who followed them. For example, some persons unreasonably give the wrong advice on foods and lifestyle to prevent COVID-19. There is no 100 per cent correct method that can guarantee prevention of the pandemic until now. Some experts have not confirmed in advance that the vaccine can guarantee 100 per cent prevention, and they have said a definite answer would be available only after the vaccine has been produced.
Therefore, try to live healthily. If your basic health conditions are good, you can overcome any disease. Therefore, healthy practices can be found in the information and news released by the Ministry of Health and Sports. It is advised to raise questions to the Q & A programme with senior health experts. Don’t believe unfounded information and don’t follow unreasonable ideas.
If any information was thought to be realistic, it could be put forward to the programme for seeking the right idea.
I also want to report on the elections and COVID-19 situations. The number of overseas voter turnout increased by three times in comparing with that of 2015. However, the percentage of voter turnout from their registration declined from 75 per cent in 2015 to 69 per cent this year. Nevertheless, the figures of overall voter turnout surged by three times. Although Myanmar citizens abroad want to cast their votes and received applications of Form 15, they failed to cast their votes. It was possibly due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is assumed that they got Form 15 because they had a desire to vote. However, in some countries, it was very difficult to go and vote.
Some countries allowed polling booths only in major cities. So, our people could not cast their votes. Actually, the percentage of 69 is considerably high, although it is lower than 75 per cent of the 2015 General Election. We are grateful to our citizens for their active voting in the elections in performing their duties as citizens.
As the elections become nearer, people need to abide by the rules and guidelines of COVID-19. Respective political parties need to follow these guidelines in their campaign activities not only for the health of the people but also for the victory of their party. So, it is advised to control their temper. Voting on 8 November is more important than energetic campaign activities. The voters who are eligible for advance voting can cast their votes before 8 November. Therefore, please build up your strength. Every political party will conduct its campaign in line with the rules. People might breach the rules during their participation in political campaigns of their party. It is requested to stay vigilant about this. In relation to the COVID-19, I have said this many times; we have to think about the future; we have to think about the economic situation. I want to tell the people that we are constantly monitoring the situation.
I am not telling you not to worry about the future. It will not be possible to persuade people not to have anxiety. It is reasonable to consider about the future. We cannot tell people not to have growing concerns under these circumstances. However, health is more important at present. Health is vital to overcome the pandemic. If someone is not healthy, they could not work. As a Myanmar saying goes, ‘Health is the greatest of blessings’. It is very true. Please stay healthy and abide by the rules and regulations. It is essential to wear a mask. If all the people wore masks, the infection rate of COVID-19 would decline significantly. I am collecting the infection data from respective countries. I am surprised at the infection rate of Japan because Japanese people strictly follow rules and disciplines.
In further studying, it was found that the population density of Japan is high and many people are using trains and buses. It is concluded that such public transports are some sources for the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, public gatherings have encouraged the spread of infections. Moreover, I have learnt that Japanese people are used to wearing masks. However, the masks cannot prevent this disease among the crowd. Therefore, people are suggested to stay away from crowded areas and to wear masks in public areas. For necessary reasons for going outside, it is required to wear a mask for the prevention of the disease. Don’t hesitate to ask guests to wear masks and to wash hands. Don’t have meals together with elderly persons at home. Although the younger persons can resist to the virus, the elderly persons at home might not have sufficient immunity to resist the disease.
Especially, the underlying disease of these elderly persons would reduce their immunity. Therefore, it is required to avoid having meals together at home during this period to prevent the spread of disease among the family members. It is believed that people have understood the rules for COVID-19. Their compliance with these rule plays a crucial role. If they failed to comply with these rules deliberately, their knowledge of the rules would be in vain to prevent the disease. Therefore, awareness campaigns are being conducted again and again with loudspeakers in residential areas. I would therefore like to request all of you to stay healthy so that you would not have listened in vain to these public awareness campaigns.
Thank you all.
(Translated by Kyaw Myaing, Aung Khin)

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