Lawmaker Wants International Health Experts and WHO To Intervene The Most Controversial Outbreaks of Covid-19 in War Wreaked Rakhine State of Western Myanmar and Test the Swaps at International Laboratories

A 2 years old girl in Mark U tested positive with virus on August 23. She is fully recover and well. 

“For me and for the public, it had better government invite international virus experts and WHO and help to prevent the outbreak and test the swaps at the international labs. That kind of transparency will help all sides clear.," the lawmaker said. 

AN. Sittway. August 30, 2020 

Controversial Virus Outbreak 

Rakhine State in the western part of Myanmar has been attracted by the international community for the atrocity of thousands of Rohingya Muslim killed and massive refugees outflew to the neighboring Bangladesh in 2017 that leads international prosecution against Myanmar government at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for genocide charges. 


Infolding increase of civilian casualties and over 200,000 internally displaced refugees casted between the local based freedom fighting rebel group Arakan Army and Myanmar army for years, the recent peak of Covid-19 infection in Rakhine State has government to respond statewide lockdown and all interstate trade routes blocked. 


On one hand, toll of civilian casualties are rising; more military troops are presence; and clashes between AA and Myanmar army are accelerating.


Millions of poor people are challenging daily survival of economic hardship and shortage basic commodities due to the restrictions.


For these circumstances, local people are frustrated and doubt this largest and fastest infection of Covid-19 in relatively lower populated region and becomes very controversial. 

Local people and lawmakers want the swap sample tested at the international laboratories and WHO and international health experts intervention. 


Government Responses

Myanmar’s ministry of health and sports announced last night it has tested 300 resident positives in Rakhine State for two weeks.

Local news reported the virus is spreading to 14 townships so far.  


Myanmar de facto leader Aung San San Suu Kyi promised she would make sure enough flow of foods and rations to the state. 


3.1 million residents are ordered for stay-at-home and restricted traveling from township to township and state to state. All goods delivery trucks from mainland Myanmar have been blocked since August 22.


Full internet accesses are still not yet resumed in 9 townships.

Rakhine people are required for 21 days quarantine when they are out of the state and traveling to mainland Myanmar. 


Segregation Between Rakhine and Myanmarmese Communities 

Rakhine people feel it is segregation between Rakhine and Myanmar (Burman) ethnic communities, the most majority and the ruling people. 


People argue each other the origin of coronavirus. Some Myanmar nationals start leveling Rakhine people they are the origin of second wave of Covid-19 outbreak in Myanmar and called them “Covid-Rakhine.” 


Rakhine people hit back the Covid-19 outbreak in the Rakhine State is ‘fake’ and ‘politically motivated’ and name it “Political-Covid-19.” 


DR Khin Khin Htoo, a Rakhine physician working for the largest Covid-19 center at Waibargi hospital in Yangon, broadcasted live on her Facebook and requested Myanmar people not to brand and insult the Rakhine people as the “origin of Covid-19.” 

She said, “Please don’t brand Rakhine people as the origin of Covid-19 in Myanmar. Such insult and prejudice is discriminating against entire Rakhine people. This virus is global pandemic and originated from Wuhan Province in China and spreading globally.”

“But it does not matter where it began, but our job is to work together to prevent the virus outbreak. By keeping labeling Rakhine people as Covid-19 virus people, it is not really worthy,” the physician said.


This prejudice and argument between the two communities become socially wildering and long term impact on distrust and disunity. 


Local CSOs Suggestion 

Local CSOs criticize the government responses are over reaction and lack of systematic prevention measures and long term recovery. 


Frist, CSO members want the government to provide full access of internet services and provide more personal protection accessories and apply the restriction of social distancing and large public gathering. 


They think since Rakhine state is one of most poor states and majority of people live in day to day earning and reply on forests, mountains, and rivers for food gathering, the stay-at-home order over 3.1 million residents, and person from per household allowed for shopping is forcing the people into more economic hardships. 

Economic Hardship 

Taxi drivers say they cannot earn enough cash to feed the families because people do not go out and ride taxis since the main market is close before noon in the capital city. 


Shopkeepers report there is almost no customer shopping at the groceries. Their incomes are dropping rapidly.


Most casual labors are out of jobs at the construction sites and markets. They don’t know when they can go out and get the jobs to earn and feed their families. 


Since the food supplies from mainland Myanmar, mostly cooking oil, onions, and commodities, have been cut off, the prices of goods are rising doubles. 


On the other hands, state authorities are forcing the virus suspects of over 100 patients to stay at the hospital in the state capital Sittway. About 300 people are forced in quarantine in several townships in poor condition.


The local CSO members think it is too much. They believe it is enough for the people to follow or enforce to execute the advices of health experts on personal protection procedure to wear masks, wash hands and sanitation, and stay at home when they have fever and cold. 


They also want the government to open the interstate trade routes if the drivers meet requirement of health department and protection procedures.


Conditions of Covid-19 Infected Patients at Hospital

The patients reported they are all perfectly well and fully recovered at the hospital. No patient is treated at Intensive Care Unit yet. 


Several women patients broadcasted live-video on social media yesterday and said they are well and look like they are on vacation at the hospital. 


A woman patient wrote from the hospital on her Facebook account and urged her friends to be ease and relax because she worried her friends living at homes may dies for overly worry. 


Relatives of a 2 years old Covid-19 infected patient in Mrauk U township showed the photo she is well and fully recovered. 


Some volunteer medical doctors and specialists suggest the higher authority to send experience experts of hospital managements to Sittway hospital. They said the setting and the procedures of the health worker sanitations are more like spreading the virus than the effective treatments and containments. 


These physicians spoke out after several health workers are reportedly infected and saw the condition of people in quarantine. They said the condition of patient and hospital management in Yangon and Sittway is like a huge gap between the heaven and earth. 


More Military Presence

Local people reported more military is increasing presences and bringing more supplies to Rakhine State during the lockdown time.


“At least 20 military trucks loaded with troops, artilleries, and supplies are passing on the road in front of my house from the Sittway airport to the military bases daily,” said a resident in Sittway, who wants to keep his name confident. 


He said he has seen many heavy boxes and large cannons in the trucks covering with canvas when they are delivering to the military bases in the outskirt of town.


“The paper boxes bringing by the Myanmar air force and loaded on the trucks are very heavy even though those are marked with ‘Mask Supplies.’ I think these boxes must be the military supplies, said another resident, who does not want to publish his name for security season. 


Arakan Army and local people reported several military clashes are taken places in Rathedaung township and Paletwa township in Chin State in recent days. 


More Civilian Casualties Are Reported During the Lockdown  

Local news and human rights organizations have reported 3 civilians have been killed and 11 villagers injured by Myanmar army shooting and firing artilleries since the virus infection started on August 16.

Villager chairman reported a shell fired from Myanmar army based in Rathedaung landed inside Nga San Bo village and injured 64 years old village official U Aung Kyaw Nyunt on August 29.


Myanmar soldiers arrested and tortured a second year collage student Maung Nyi Nyi Soe, 18, in Ann township on August 28. His face and jaw were injured. 


Myanmar army shot and killed 2 civilians and wounded 3 women in northern Rakhine State today when Myanmar government is imposing restrictions of stay-at-home and travel ban, and night curfew in every township due to the highest outbreak of Covid-19, reaching the death toll of 4 civilians and injury of 11 villagers since the virus outbreak began on August 16. 


Residents in Kyauktaw reported 60 Myanmar troops entered into to the town after midnight and shot and kill a charity volunteer today. 


Maung Naing Win, 31 and resident of Shan Hwra ward, died with the 6 bullets in his head, chest, and body. His body was handed over to the hospital by the police at 8 am. 


Daw Than Way, sister of late Maung Naing Win, told the local news he lived with his mother in the town. He came to her resident and had dinner with her last evening. Then he was shot and killed at night.  


She said she sees the dead body of her brother at the hospital this morning. 


Witnesses told our news Maung Naing Soe’s head was totally destroyed by the bullets. He was a member of the local charity organization, Thaingaha Let Kan. 


Myanmar soldiers from Light Infantry Division 22 fired guns and shells and killed a female farmer and wounded 3 other villager women in Ah Puck Wa village in Kyauktaw township this morning at 11 am.


Ma Bu May, 26, is hit by bullet on her hip. She was taken to Kyauktaw hospital. She died at this evening. 


Daw Mae Kay, 54, Daw Ma Thein Kyew, 35, and Daw Aye Thein Kyew, 30, are wounded by the shell sharpeners and bullets.  One of the critically injured women is blocked by the military to transport to Sittway hospital for further treatment. 


“They are coming back to the village after they hear gunfire near the railroad. Then Myanmar soldiers ambushing near the village fire the guns and shells directly to women. They are falling down on the ground,” said a villager who does not want to print in the press.  


A Lawmaker Wants The Controversial Swaps of 300 Covid-19 Infected Patient Retest at International Laboratories 

“I don’t really know the virus infections in Rakhine State is Covid-19 or not since I am not virologist nor a health expert, but I am a lawmaker, concerning the voices of people and listening to the ministry of health and sports what they are publicizing the largest virus outbreak in my state for weeks,” said a lawmaker whom our news agency keeps for confident. 


He said, “Many people tell this virus infection has political and military agendas. These widely concerned of local communities can be real; at the same time, the ministry can be real too. But the people told me none of the patients at the hospital in Sittway shows any severe symptom as we have witnessed it internationally. They all are relatively fine now.”

“On the other hands, large militaries are built up. Offensive operations are still going on. Civilians casualties are increasing. But government keeps announcing more and more infections every day that make people more fear and doubt the government at the same time,’ he said. 

The lawmaker said,” some people told me the labs in Sittway test the swaps and report positive results to the ministry without any review by experts. Then the ministry announces the results twice in a day. That make me more concern. 


He said, “At the same time, poor people worry they will starve and die if the virus issues are lingering and the restrictions are hanging for loner times.”


“We have election in November, but election commission may not be able to proceed if this virus issue is flying above everyone eyebrow,” he said. 


He said, “Our state also has war between the Arakan Army and Myanmar military for almost two years. None of the forces is winning totally. The winter is approaching. As soon as the rain is stop, the state army will launch major offensive operations against AA, and this virus outbreak that leads more restrictions is really something to consider in the range of political and military parameter. I worry more civilians will be killed." 


“For me and for the public, it had better government invite international virus experts and WHO and help to prevent the outbreak and test the swaps at the international labs. That kind of transparency will help all sides clear.," the lawmaker said. 


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