Kachin State Govt Announces Plans for Two COVID-19 labs by Mid-September

The Kachin State Government plans to build laboratories to test for coronavirus in Myitkyina and Bhamo town by mid-September.

Zaw Zaw, director of Kachin State government, told KNG the labs wouldn’t be as big as those in other city centers but still capable of testing four tissue samples an hour. “If we build a big lab it will take space and we have to plan more on biosecurity. And we’ll need experts.”

Following the discovery of SARS-CoV-2 in Chinese city Wuhan, civil society organization groups pushed for the government to make a lab to test for the virus in the Kachin State capital. One was planned but stalled after a budget shortfall.

Ko Mung Htoi Tu, from COVID-19 Prevention Network, told KNG they need the laboratories. “Now the second wave is coming. There are many Rakhine people working in Hpakant District. If an infected person arrives at Hpakant to work, it will cause an outbreak and be difficult to manage.” If there are labs, testing can happen quickly, he said.

In Myitkyina and Waingmaw town, there are almost 100 volunteers assisting with COVID-19 education and prevention.

Zaw Zaw said it will cost more than 40 million kyat ($30,000) to buy some of the necessary items for operating the two labs, which include disinfectants and personal protective equipment.

Currently, there are laboratories in the cities Yangon and Mandalay, and in Shan and Mon states. The government is planning to build others in 26 townships across the country.

There were two confirmed cases in Kachin State, but both were recovered in June.

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