Myanmar is currently heavily affected by covid-19 and according to aid groups, more than 60 percent of the country’s total deaths from covid-19 happened last month with the per capita death rate surpassing those of Indonesia and Malaysia.
In a recent article by media WORLD, Laura Marshall, the Myanmar director for the Norwegian Refugee Council confirms that the situation is challenging. “I’m literally writing a condolence message every day,” Laura Marshall said. According to WORLD, at least 20 percent of the staff at the Norwegian Refugee Council in Myanmar’s largest city of Yangon has been infected with covid-19 since May. “It’s been horrifying listening to people trying to find spaces in hospitals and trying to secure basic things like oxygen when they’re just not available,” Laura Marshall said.
WORLD writes that after the coup in February, working professionals including doctors and healthcare workers led protests and civil disobedience throughout the country and since then at least 260 attacks on health workers have been staged by security forces according to Tom Andrews, a United Nations expert on human rights in Myanmar. Data from Insecurity Insight, which analyzes conflicts around the globe also shows that at least 157 healthcare workers have been arrested, 32 wounded and 12 killed since the military takeover.
According to the article, activists in the country say that the military in Myanmar is now using the pandemic against the people and coup leaders are weaponizing covid-19 to gain more power. Activists say that the military is targeting healthcare workers with violence and oppression and restraining medical resources for civilians and dissidents and keeping it to themselves and its supporters.
In Myanmar, the Norwegian Refugee Council works to help internally displaced citizens with food, shelter, and other basic needs and according to Laura Marshall, some people at internally displaced camps have no access to healthcare. In addition, the number of displaced people in urban areas is also growing and recently Laura Marshall heard of a woman who lost her life during childbirth. “It was not because of COVID but because of no access to healthcare,” Laura Marshall said.
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