February 24, 2024


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Myanmar moves to increase COVID-19 test kit stockpile amid coronavirus battle

YANGON: Myanmar is set to receive 40,000 more COVID-19 test kits in the country to help it cope with the virus outbreak, days after it detected at least three positive cases.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports spokesperson Khin Khin Gyi told CNA the country currently has about 2,000 test kits.

“But the more we have, the better,” she said. “We have received donations from Singapore as well as agencies like UN, so we have around 40,000 test kits on their way.”

On Thursday, Singapore’s Temasek Foundation CEO Benedict Cheong met Myanmar Ambassador to Singapore Htay Aung at the Myanmar Embassy.

Myanmar’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the Singapore foundation would donate 10,000 test kits to the country.

This is Singapore’s second donation – the first was 3,000 test kits made in early March.

WHO representative to Myanmar Stephan Paul Jost said each test kit can be used only once, but each person would be tested thrice for maximum accuracy.

City government workers disinfect a street

City government workers disinfect a street as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Yangon on Mar 25, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Ye Aung Thu)

Up until late-February, Myanmar had to send samples to Thailand for testing.

Since then, donations from countries like Thailand, US, Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea have helped Myanmar beef up its capabilities to independently test for the virus.

READ: Enough COVID-19 test kits for Myanmar, says WHO representative

On Monday (Mar 23), Myanmar confirmed its first two positive cases. Two days later, the country announced its third positive case.

All three were imported by Myanmar nationals who had recent travel history to the US and UK.

Local media reported a village in northwest Myanmar’s Chin State, where one of the patients had travelled to, is under lockdown.

Meanwhile, contact tracing is under way to find those whom the COVID-19 patients had come into contact with.

Myanmar has a population of 54 million people, giving rise to concern the virus could potentially spread quickly.

A woman's temperature is taken as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus

A woman’s temperature is taken as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus before entering a shopping mall in Yangon on Mar 25, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Ye Aung Thu)

The country’s main tasks now, Dr Jost said, are to “continue to expand testing, continue to contact trace, continue to isolate because what we must do is to break chain of transmission”.

“Myanmar will need to prepare for more and more cases, and it will need to be more aggressive in its response,” he said.

A day after Myanmar announced its first positive cases, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi gave a televised national address to give assurance to the country.

Ms Suu Kyi said there was no need to panic and that the government does not plan to shut down essential services.

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