Friday, September 17, 2021

Myanmar’s junta seeks international cooperation over the Covid-19 crisis

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Myanmar’s military ruler is seeking greater cooperation with the international community to contain the coronavirus, state media reported Wednesday, as the Southeast Asian country battles a growing wave of infections.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing called in a speech for greater cooperation in the prevention, control and treatment of Covid-19, including with members of the association of Southeast Asian Nations and “friendly countries,” reported Global New Light of Myanmar.
The board leader said it is necessary to increase vaccines, both through donated doses and through the development of domestic production, with the help of Russia, the newspaper said, adding that Myanmar will seek the release of funds from a fund ASEAN Covid-19.
Myanmar recently received two million more Chinese vaccines, but is believed to have only vaccinated about 3.2% of its population, according to a Reuters tracker.
There have been desperate efforts by people to find oxygen in many parts of the country. The Myanmar Now news portal, citing witnesses, reported that at least eight people died in a Yangon hospital over the weekend after a piped oxygen system failed.
Reuters could not independently confirm the report and the Okkalapa North General Hospital and a spokeswoman for the Health Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.
Infections in Myanmar have risen since June, with 4,964 cases and 338 deaths reported on Tuesday, according to data from the Health Ministry quoted in the media. Doctors and funeral services increase the number of victims.
Myanmar has been in chaos since the army toppled an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, with regular protests and fighting between the army and newly formed militias.
Last week, prisoners in Yangon staged a protest over what activists said was a major Covid-19 outbreak in the colonial-era Insein jail, where many pro-democracy protesters are being held.
Efforts to address the outbreak have been further hampered by some of the worst flooding in years in eastern Myanmar.
The military has seemed wary of outside aid in past disasters, especially if it believes conditions are tied, forcing the people of Myanmar to help each other, although a previous board allowed aid through ASEAN after the devastating Cyclone Nargis in 2008.
Despite Min Aung Hlaing agreeing to an ASEAN peace plan reached in April, the military has shown little sign of complying with it, instead reiterating its own completely different plan to restore order and democracy.
The military justified their coup by accusing Suu Kyi’s party of manipulating the votes in the November general elections to secure a landslide victory. The electoral commission at that time and external observers rejected the complaints.
But in a further sign of the junta’s increasingly tight grip on power, the army-appointed electoral commission this week officially overruled the November results, saying the vote was not in line with the constitution and electoral laws and it was not “free and fair.” -Run the MRTV network reported.
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