State Counsellor reports to people regarding COVID-19 situation

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State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivered a televised speech regarding the latest COVID-19 situation yesterday. Today as I report to the people, I want to talk about something related to the COVID-19 disease. I want to talk about something important to the country as COVID-19. It is about our general elections. The reason is that our general elections have already started. The reason why I said “it has already started” is because our citizens residing abroad have already started casting their advance ballots at the embassies in foreign countries.
We could say that we are very proud of the fact that they are casting their advance ballots. Why? This is because our citizens are carrying out their duties as citizens. They are casting their advance ballots in great numbers. Right now, the casting of advance ballots has been completed in 10 diplomatic missions. Let me talk about Form-15. In foreign countries, the number of citizens who have completed Form-15 is over 109,000. Right now, the number of advance ballots which were cast beginning from on Saturday and Sunday is over 15,000. I think it is 15,971. Therefore it is learnt that our citizens are casting their advance ballots speedily and enthusiastically. That’s why I wish to say I am grateful. I am also thanking on behalf of the country. This is very good for the dignity of our country. It gives us a great boost in morale to know that our citizens perform their duties in full measure no matter where they are in spite of difficulties.
At this time, all of us should unite our strength to overcome COVID and also conduct the elections successfully. I always think about these two things together. How do we consider this matter? We have made preparations so that our people would be able to vote in the general elections in a safe and secure manner from the health point of view. We conduct detailed training courses for this matter. For example, tomorrow for the first time, we will conduct a test run of what will happen on Election Day at the polling stations. A rehearsal will be carried out to see how the people will cast their ballots in a safe and secure manner from the health point of view. We will train and then do the testing systematically. We will establish the procedures after asking questions such as “how should we do it?”, “What should we do to get the best outcome?”, “How should we plan the process so that the people have a sense of security and also to ensure their security?” We will conduct this type of training exercise for three times before the elections. Based on these three exercises we will think very carefully what kind of rules and regulations should be established. Then the UEC (Union Election Commission) will take the lead and implement the plans.
Furthermore I want our citizens to understand that voting in the general elections is their duty; in the same way, abiding by the health rules and regulations to protect themselves of COVID-19 is also their duty as citizens. As everyone knows, the number of positive cases is over 1,000 every day. Some are very worried and anxious because it is over 1,000. When you feel worried, you need to feel worried only to a certain extent. I don’t want all of you to be too worried or anxious. This is because we reminded all of you last week. We will detect more positive cases because we have started using Antigen test kits which can give us results quickly. We will discover more positive cases quickly. This means we will be able to provide treatment quickly. At the moment we have begun using Antigen test kits not only in Yangon Region but also in other regions and states. Therefore we will find more positive cases quickly. If we can give treatment early, the recovery rate will be higher. Also, more patients will recover quicker. I think our people know about this already.
The important thing is to go to the respective hospital as soon as symptoms are detected. Some people go. When they go to hospitals, they say that there are not enough beds. This is true in some places. I ask for your forgiveness for this matter. However, we are making arrangements so that there are enough beds in hospitals and other facilities set up by the Ministry of Health and Sports for the treatment of COVID-19. These arrangements have been quite effective. I want to express my profound thanks to all our citizens, entrepreneurs, associations, and individuals, from home and abroad who have been joining hands to help us in all possible manner. COVID-19 has proven that in our country, we are capable of uniting when faced with daunting challenges. Our citizens can unite in trying times. This gives us strength. As there are many business persons, organizations and individuals who have been contributing in this crisis, it is beyond the time allotted for me to mention each of their names here in gratitude for their donations. However, the list of highest contributors will be published in the state-owned newspapers. Does that mean that I am only grateful to those who were able to donate? No, not at all. In addition to these persons, I am really grateful to every individual citizen who is living healthily. No one wants to get the disease. However, having this intention is not enough. However, it is most important to live so as not to become infected with the disease.
This is something I have repeatedly been saying. Not to get infected, the fundamental requirements are not that many. Avoid going to crowded places and don’t go outside of the house. This is not because I don’t want you to go outside. When you go outside the house, there may be others who have not taken the necessary precautions. To give an easy example, those who have not put on masks; I don’t want you to go out of the house because you might meet some persons who have not put on their masks. You might be in danger. Stay inside the house as much as possible. When going to the markets for necessary reasons, only one person should go to the market and should be accompanied by another family member only when it is required. Whenever going to the market, it is better to wear a mask and a pair of gloves. After coming back from the market, hands must be washed carefully, and clothes must be changed for washing.
It has been decided to impose cash fine for negligence on wearing masks, especially in Yangon Region where the number of confirmed cases is increasing, and many people do not wear masks when going to the markets or crowded places. The cash fine is not to cause trouble for the people. We understand that our country also has economic problems like other countries. In this awkward situation, we do not want to put extra burdens on the people. However, it is important to understand the cash fine. They will be asked to buy a mask. The amount would be 200 kyats— 150 kyats for cash fine and 50 kyats for a mask. The mask must be worn immediately.
Some countries, especially rich nations, are reconsidering about their economy although they have not fully controlled the disease. Their first action to prevent long-term economic decline is to develop a practice of wearing a mask. It is not a very difficult step. The value of the mask has significantly lowered. Therefore, I would like to suggest people wear the mask in going outside and develop the habit of handwashing after coming back from outside, and after touching something outside. Don’t host any guest for unnecessary matters. Ask the guests to wear a mask for essential visits. Give them the hand sanitizer for cleaning their hands, if necessary. Such practices should become part of our way of life. Some people have asked how long the outbreak of COVID-19 would last. I have already mentioned that we need to exercise these practices until the vaccine has been developed. It is expected that the vaccine would come out at the end of this year. We have approached to the countries which are trying to develop the vaccine and have discussed with them to put in the list of prioritized country for giving the vaccine to us as a donation or allowing us to buy from them.
We will not be stingy with the cost of the health of people. However, we cannot imagine what kind of vaccine we would receive, whether annual vaccination or lifetime one. It is commonly estimated that the lifetime vaccination would not be possible in this pandemic. We will need to wait and see it. In fact, our people need to be extremely vigilant until we receive the vaccine. I want to tell people again to be vigilant.
Commodity transport is important for us as in other countries, and that we also consider the health of truck drivers and their mates. The Antigen test kits are being used for them to prevent the spread of disease from one area to another. We will try our best in the treatment. I have frequently said that people with poor health conditions are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Therefore, these persons need to undergo medical treatment immediately as soon as they feel infected with the disease. Some people said that it is useless. It is not true. There might be some difficulties in some places. They would not get treatment as the centres immediately. Some hospitals do not have sufficient beds for patients. We could overcome such problems. Therefore, it is advised to undergo medical treatment. We will arrange medical treatments for the people, and people need to cooperate with us.
We are taking measures to protect people from the disease during the election period. While training courses are being conducted for the election special police, the Antigen test kits are used for them. So, we are doing our work step by step by taking a holistic approach for the health of the people, their security, and to ensure they perform their responsibilities and also enjoy their rights. Therefore, we don’t want people to get depressed because of COVID-19. It should be kept in mind that serious fear or worry will not be good, while vigilance will never be in excess.
People need to believe that the Union government is doing its best. For example, arrangements are underway for the voting of quarantined persons and for people at the hospitals. Only then, all the people could fully enjoy their citizen rights. The Stay-at-Home order is imposed in some townships and almost all the townships in Yangon Region. People previously considered to vote in their respective home towns. They have understood that it is not easy for them to do so, especially to the Yangon Region, due to the rule for quarantine.
The Union Election Commission has also made an announcement regarding this matter. I want to make the public know that application for voting can be submitted by Form 3 before 10 October. For example, an eligible voter who is now in a township of Magway Region can submit the Form 3 before 10 October for the voting in that area and do not need to go back to Yangon. Therefore, I would like to advise people to use their rights with responsibility.
It was learnt that there are some difficulties with the voter lists online. We will try to make this process smoother. The programme might not be enough for a large number of online users. We are working to solve this problem as best as we can. We have told you not to worry too much, but do keep awareness as our government is working for the people to be able to fully enjoy the healthcare services and their citizen rights. We are gaining success due to the contribution of the people. You are not helping the Union government if you are neglecting your health. I have pointed out frequently that every citizen needs to take care of their health. The government will take responsibility for the remaining issues. We believe that the active participation of the people could control the pandemic to a certain degree. I am grateful for this. I would like to conclude my report with these words of gratitude. I thank all the people who are working their best in the containment of COVID, and those living abroad who are casting their advance votes for the 2020 General Elections in performance of their duties as citizens for dignity of the country. May you all be able to live in good health and well-being! Please live healthy lives. (Translated by Kyaw Myaing, Aung Khin)

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