Myanmar has reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus, two men who have recently traveled to the United States and the United Kingdom.
Southeast Asian countries have always been the most populous countries in the world. Despite a long and porous border with China, there are no cases in the country. The virus comes from Wuhan.
The Ministry of Health said two Myanmar nationals, 36 years old traveling from the United States and 26 years old from the UK, tested positive.
“The medical history of the two patient contacts is under investigation,” it said in a statement late Monday.
News of the confirmed case caused panic purchases in the commercial capital of Yangon, with shoppers in large supermarkets.
Myanmar closed its land border last week and banned mass gatherings, including the upcoming Buddhist New Year. The cinema is closed, although bars and restaurants are still open.
Government spokesman Zaw Htay said at a news conference earlier this month that “the lifestyles and diet of Myanmar’s citizens” have protected the country from the virus, while others praised the country’s Buddhist beliefs. .
Some doctors say that although medical systems that have been neglected under decades of military rule are among the worst in the world, they are still concerned about the outbreak of large-scale diseases. Many services are provided by volunteers and aid organizations.
Two doctors told Reuters that a possible explanation for the lack of cases in Myanmar is a limited number of tests. Ministry of Health spokesman Khin Khin Gyi said that as of Monday evening, Myanmar conducted approximately 300 inspections of 51 million people.
She said, “WHO said,” test, test, test. “” But who should we test? Clearly, we need to test suspicious cases … we don’t test random people. “
Until recently, she said, every test had to be approved by the Central Committee in Naypyidaw’s capital.
In recent days, thousands of migrant workers from Thailand have returned to villages across the country. Hundreds of cases have been confirmed in Thailand and there are concerns that the virus will spread further.
“If these people are infected with the virus and the spread is widespread, the situation will be very bad,” said Kyaw Ko Ko, a community worker from Mektila. “We can just sit and wait to pick up all the bodies.”