Myanmar’s unfolding COVID-19 disaster

Skyrocketing deaths, a shattered healthcare system, and a deep distrust of junta authorities amid a coup crisis – Myanmar’s spiralling coronavirus disaster is spurring calls for emergency intervention amid warnings the Southeast Asian nation will become a “super spreader”. There are oxygen shortages, queues outside crematoriums, and hospitals and clinics are turning people away. Officially reported daily deaths have jumped exponentially – from 13 at the start of the month to more than 300 on 22 July – but the true scale of the crisis is obscured by minimal testing and a collapsed health system. The EU’s humanitarian aid arm, ECHO, says Myanmar’s COVID-19 outbreak is “likely the worst in Southeast Asia”. Rights groups say the military junta has weaponised the virus as it targets healthcare staff aligned with the anti-coup movement. Last week, Myanmar’s government in exile, the National Unity Government, said it has a vaccination plan and a COVID-19 task force, but it needs international support. Former senior UN rights monitors are calling for a “massive” intervention: “An international presence of health and medical personnel has become critical,” they said in a statement.

-- The New Humanitarian