Health Dept Monitoring Nearly 3,000 People in Kachin State for COVID-19

Office of Kachin State Health Department, Myitkyina

Kachin State’s health department has reported that a total of 2,985 people are being monitored either at home or in quarantine facilities for signs of the coronavirus in the state.

According to Dr. Naw Shelter, who works with the state government’s health department, 2,353 people are currently quarantined at home, 621 people are in government-sanctioned quarantine facilities, and 11 are in hospital.

The people placed in the official quarantine facilities include those who have had contact with others who have tested positive for coronavirus and migrant workers who have recently returned from China, Malaysia, Thailand, India, and the Philipines. People who have recently come back to Kachin State from other regions in Burma have been placed on home quarantine.

Dr. Naw Shelter called on people to follow the guidelines put forward by the Ministry of Health and Sports regarding hygiene and social distancing and to “protect themselves.”

“People should not be discriminated against. This is a critical time in our country,” the doctor said.

However, KNG reported on April 2 that people forced by armed conflict to stay in internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps were unable to follow health directives—including handwashing—because of a severe lack of water in the camps. Camp leaders also said that they do not have funds to buy hand sanitize or masks. Most IDPs in Kachin State survive by doing daily wage labor outside of the camps and say they are unable to self-isolate because they need to work in order to feed their families.

Twenty people have tested negative for COVID-19 in Kachin State, according to government statistics. It is unknown how many people have been tested in total.

A man was tested positive for the coronavirus—Burma’s 17th official patient—after traveling from Mandalay to the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina by train on April 3. Other passengers who were on the same train have been asked to report to the health department, but it remains unclear how or if those passengers have received the message to do so.

According to Dr. Naw Shelter, the Kachin State government has prepared 96 quarantine centers in the state, with five in downtown Myitkyina.

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