Yesterday, for one or two days, there was something to think about regarding COVID-19 disease for our people. The day before yesterday, the infection level went up. This was something to worry about. Yesterday, the infection level went down a bit. Because the level went down, we need to continue maintaining this level with the knowledge that we can make the level go down if we made efforts to contain the infection. We cannot become careless and carefree. However, this shows that we can contain COVID-19 disease if we abide by the rules and regulations. We need to continue our efforts. Not only at the region and state level; we need to keep up our efforts in each and every township. The reason is that we have been issuing news bulletins about new positive cases being discovered at various townships on a daily basis. Therefore the people in respective townships need to control the way they go about their daily lives if the infection level has gone up for their township. Furthermore, the administrative officials for the townships need to understand that they need to be careful and take a proactive attitude. In some townships where the infection level has gone down, they should not become careless and indifferent; it is very important for them to realize that the infection level went down because of their vigilant efforts; they should continue to keep up their vigilance.
As the people know already, as we have experienced the second wave of the COVID-19 disease, the Ministry of Health and Sports has achieved a greater level of understanding as to how to confront, how to overcome this challenge, how to take care of the new positive cases and provide them with treatment. As their knowledge and understanding reach a higher level, they are now able to give more effective care and treatment. At this time, we are making arrangements for greater participation by private sector hospitals and medical clinics in the COVID-19 containment efforts. This is to make it possible for people to have a choice. If they wish to go to a private medical clinic or a private hospital, whether it is for COVID or any other underlying health problem or any other disease, they can do so according to their own choice. As they make their own choice, the Ministry of Health and Sports has prescribed rules and regulations in coordination with the private medical clinics and hospitals for the safety and comfort of the people, hospitals and the general public. In this way, people can make their own choice, and this gives some relief to the government hospitals. We believe that this would help us in our efforts to confront the COVID-19 disease.
Another thing is what we have been saying repeatedly. The medical experts of the whole world have been saying again and again about basic health. It is very important to take care of our basic health. For our basic health to be good, sometimes we need to take a practical approach. It is easy to say; take care of your basic health. To take care of your basic health, what is generally accepted is to take exercise. They say that we need to take fresh air; however, because of the COVID disease situation, I fully understand that there may be difficulties in some cases. That’s why I say as much as possible. Try to stay healthy according to your own situation. Try not to worry too much for impossible things. When you eat, try to eat as healthily as possible. Also, please take care of what you eat and the amount you eat.
As regards food supplies, the Union Government has been taking measures to ensure that our basic needs, such as rice will be available in all places without shortages. Apart from that, when we learnt that well-wishers are donating rice, oil and salt, we have been very much encouraged. We feel great pride in their efforts. This is a very fortunate habit that we have in our country. Our people unite in times of great need and challenges. All our people cooperate and participate to help out in whatever way they can. I wish to express my appreciation to all the donors and well-wishers who have donated rice, oil and salt for our citizens who are less fortunate and are in need.
I have frequently talked to the public about a long-term issue. Although our country is facing a great challenge, we are trying to control the situation as best we can. A certain degree of results has been produced from our efforts. We can say that in the foreign investment sector, our country is relatively better than in some neighbouring countries. Our FDI target adopted in 2016 has reached 98 per cent this year. Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, we missed only 2 per cent of our target. By looking at it optimistically, the goal could be achieved in the remaining two months. Even if we could not fulfil the overall target, achieving 98 per cent is a considerable success amid the crisis. Most of the neighbouring countries have faced worse situations. I don’t mean any disrespect to other countries. I just want our people to understand. Although our expectation was to achieve 100 per cent, since we achieved 98 per cent, we could say that this is quite a performance.
Another matter is that the General Elections in our country are coming nearer day by day. It will be organized in less than two weeks. Preparations have been made for it. Health protective items to be used in the elections are being imported from China by flights on a daily basis. These items will be distributed across the country sufficiently.
We have studied elections in other countries to learn how they managed to organize their elections with safety measures for health. Although our country is not one of the world richest countries, we have studied the best practices in different places. While some protective measures are reliable, some others are not good enough for prevention. We are preparing for the most suitable plans for the country, depending on the needs and our possible resources. So, people can cast their votes in safety on Election Day and are encouraged to do so. I have frequently said that voting is the duty of our citizens, as well as their rights. Victory must be achieved in holding the elections and the fight against COVID-19. After all, the public might have known about COVID-19 thoroughly as I have frequently talked about it. However, don’t relax your vigilance against this disease, and it is required to follow the healthcare guidelines.
If you don’t apply all the information and knowledge you have acquired about COVID in real life, the containment measures will not be effective. The daily confirmed rate increased in the past one or two weeks, reaching over 2,000; therefore, it was quite worrisome for all of us. Although the figures are fluctuating in recent days, the surge in cases is still under control. The number of positives yesterday was less than 1,000. However, it might increase tomorrow. We can never say. There might be some fluctuations. No need to have a serious worry about these varying numbers. The important thing is to be able to maintain the plateau and make sure the level of infections go down gradually.
The people can have the satisfaction that this declining trend is due to their self-control measures over the disease. It is also very important for them to remember that this wave could surge again if they failed to behave appropriately with self-control. Therefore, I send Metta and good wishes for the good health and well-being of all the people.
As Thadingyut is drawing nearer, I want to remind you that the Thadingyut festival should not be celebrated with crowds as usual in the previous years when they visit pagodas, monasteries and other religious sites. However, these things cannot be done at the present time. However, such practices must be avoided while celebrating the religious festival in some alternative ways for meritorious deeds which can also be done mentally. For example, cultivating Metta, doing meditation and saying prayers can be done at any place. Also, we can hang lanterns or lights at home; in this way, we can celebrate without encouraging crowds or spreading the COVID-19 disease. Therefore, I want all of you to start thinking about how you can celebrate the Thadingyut festival so as to gain merit as well as peace of mind Thadingyut is coming soon. I want all of you to be happy and joyous during Thadingyut. I also want all of you to have good health and well-being.
I send Metta to all of you.
(Translated by Kyaw Myaing, Aung Khin)