State Counsellor reports to people about latest COVID-19 situation

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State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi gives a televised speech to the public about COVID-19 situation on 28 September 2020. Photo: MNA

Today, my intention is to report to the people about the COVID disease situation. Most people know about this already. At the moment, the total number of people who are infected, who have been infected and those who are currently suffering from this disease is more than 10,000. Also, the total number of deaths is now over 200. Therefore it is natural that some of our people may have anxieties and worries. However, I want you all to see this as something we need to take seriously instead of something to be worried about. I want you all to see this as something to take seriously, something we need to be careful. Furthermore, I want to encourage our people who have tested positive; you are never alone. The problem with this COVID disease is because once you become infected, your family and friends could not be near you to provide support; not like other diseases. You need to be isolated. When you have to stay alone, you might lose heart or become depressed. This is natural. Therefore what I wish to say on behalf of the Union Government is that we value each individual citizen who has been infected. We never ask who has been infected. We only look at the number of infected patients. We place the same value for each person. We don’t give preferential treatment on anyone because of wealth or power. That is why I want our people to fight back this COVID disease with this strength. The reason is that when you become depressed, your immunity level goes down. It is very important not to let the immunity level go down. Not only our Union Government, we believe that the majority of our people would look upon infected patients with loving-kindness, compassion and have good intentions for their speedy recovery. Therefore, don’t get depressed if you have tested positive. We will do our best. I also believe that our people will join in to pray and to send Metta (loving-kindness).
I spoke last Friday about the status of infection of this disease. I told you that we would be receiving Antigen test kits from the Republic of Korea for speedy and correct testing. I reported that these kits would arrive within a few days and now they have arrived within these few days. Yesterday, out of the 200,000 kits that our Union Government ordered, 60,000 kits had arrived. As 140,000 kits are scheduled to arrive today, we will have the full 200,000 today. Starting from tomorrow, we will be using the test kits in the district and township hospitals. Furthermore, 5,000 test kits out of the total donated by ROK will arrive tomorrow. Therefore when we begin using the test kits, which can give us speedy and correct results, we will find more infections. This is because when we do the tests speedily, we will get speedy results. Please don’t lose heart because of this. When we find the infections early, we can give early treatment. The rate of recovery will improve.
We have said this before. The deaths resulting from this disease are related to fundamental medical problems. That is why older adults, those whose health is not strong enough, those who have underlying health problems and especially those with diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems; some of our citizens have these problems. Those who have such diseases need to be more careful. We have to worry about them because their immunity is not good. However, as I have said before, don’t get depressed because you have tested positive. Your strong spirit is very important. You are not alone. Please build up your inner strength with the thought that the whole country is with you. I want you to join in and cooperate with the public service personnel of the Ministry of Health and Sports, and workers in the health sector with the spirit that you also need to struggle to overcome this disease. When I speak about the public service personnel from the health sector, what I wish to say is that there have been some cases of infection among these workers. There have been deaths also. This is something that healthcare workers find it difficult to avoid because of the nature of their jobs. I want to thank again all these healthcare workers, volunteers, and volunteers helping at the quarantine centres, who have been working dutifully with Cetana and Metta although they know about the risks involved.
So, our people, especially those in Yangon region have the highest number of infections; I am happy to learn that they are following the directives. However, they need to maintain discipline. Beginning to follow the rules today does not mean that all will recover tomorrow. There will still be confirmed cases. We need to contain the transmission of diseases. For example, at market places; we took preventive measures. However, the compliance of these rules was relatively weak.
That is why the disease spread from such places. However, people are abiding by the rules. The Union Government is also taking measures to impose strict controls. It is expected the spread rate will surely decline. Violation of the existing rules is not courage. I want you to take heed of this. Breaching the rules in fearlessness is not courage. At this point, I remember the words of my father that ‘aggression’ is not courage, but ‘endurance’ is real courage. Daring to violate the rules is not courage. The ability to abide by the rules and regulations is real courage. Our staff members are brave persons. Volunteers and health workers have to work bravely for others. Such daring works are as valuable as endurance.
In providing healthcare services to the people, we have not left anyone behind. There has been no discrimination. For instance, we also take serious consideration for the people in prisons. While disease prevention measures are carried out at the prisons and detention centres, we have to dispense justice while bearing in mind the paramount need to maintain the rule of law. The government is exercising the best practices in remanding and court proceedings are carried out in line with the existing laws while taking healthcare measures for our people in possible ways. Therefore, don’t feel depressed and inferior. Don’t think that you are a prisoner or a detainee. We will do our best to provide equal treatment. Public participation is very crucial, and these rules and regulations need to be followed.
Last Friday, I said that we would initiate a plan. To prevent unreliable testing medicines among the public, we will launch a Q&A programme with veteran medical experts tomorrow. Questions can be raised on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Health and Sports. It was reported there have been about 300 questions until now. Some would be the same questions. Common answers will be given to the same questions. I think there would be between 50 and 100 different questions. Our medical experts could not answer all these questions in a single session. The answers will be replied on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday beginning this week from 7 pm to 7:30 pm which will be appropriate for the people.
Health expert groups will answer the most important and striking questions during this period. The remaining questions will be replied gradually in the following session. People should listen to this programme. The follow-up questions could be raised briefly and concisely if the answers were not understood. I experienced some long questions like articles. It took time to understand and to realize the main point. Only then, our health experts could give accurate answers.
Regarding the enforcement of disciplines, the rules are not to restrict the people, but to control the disease or to stop transmission of the disease. However, some persons thought these measures were just to restrict their freedom. No one has full freedom to exercise their rights because we are living in society. Perhaps, a lonely person in a desert might do anything. Actually, nothing needs to be done in the desert as there would be nothing there. Therefore, I want to emphasize that the rules are intended for the benefits of all. Any act to harm the public interest will face legal action unavoidably. However, some understand the importance of these rules only when action is taken against them. For example, take the Karaoke issue; it is a place of intimate gathering for risky contacts. A single microphone is shared among the participants, causing to breathe in the virus exhaled by others. Therefore, effective and strict legal actions will be taken against the Karaoke lounges.
People are informed that measures are being taken to take action. Some questions were raised whether we had neglected to impose law enforcement with respect to Karaoke lounges. We always considered whether our actions are effective and efficient. We are imposing strict measures because it is unavoidable. We just want to control the disease, not the people. That is why we are laying down these strict rules and regulations.
In conclusion, I want to advise all to consider the future; it is true that we need to focus on the present moment. The future should not be forgotten while concentrating on the present moment. We need to have a clear idea of where we wish to go in the future. That is why we are reporting to our people about the economic situation of the country during opportune moments, not to have serious worries. The global countries are experiencing economic downturns at present. The economic development of some economies has slumped to negative figures lower than zero. Our country has not reached below zero levels yet. We are among some of these few countries. Our country remains above zero levels out of three ASEAN countries. We cannot guarantee we can stay at this level because we are struggling for the second wave.
But we will try to maintain this level, and try to climb higher. So, I don’t want the people to worry too much about the economy of the country. At present, try to live healthily. If someone is infected with the virus, it is important to stay calm and confident of overcoming the disease. Keep in mind that the government and the people are standing with you. Our government has prepared for future economic difficulties, and we will implement our plans. We will not sit idly without doing anything just because plans have been made. We will adjust our steps to meet changing situations.
I have frequently said that the responsibility of our people is to take care of health. Use self-confidence and healthcare assistance of the government to overcome the disease if someone has been infected with the disease. Those who have not been infected with the virus should try to prevent the spread of disease in various ways. The government will work for the remaining issues as possible as they can. The word ‘as possible as’ was said because we cannot forecast all possible outcomes. People need to believe that we are entirely focusing on the possible measures to prevent severe impacts on the country and the people. Therefore, individual efforts could lead to the success of the whole country to overcome the pandemic. May you all be in good health and well-being. I am sending a lot of Metta your way. Thank you. (Translated by Kyaw Myaing, Aung Khin)

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