Myanmar starts testing for COVID-19 at own facility

The National Health Laboratory (NHL) has acquired the medical kits needed to help health professionals around the country verify suspected cases of the deadly COVID-19 virus, a senior Health Ministry official said on Thursday.

Dr. Khin Khin Gyi, deputy director of Contagious Disease Prevention and Eradication for the Department of Public Health, said the NHL facility in Yangon is up and running.

“The NHL will test two suspected cases at Waibagi Hospital in Yangon and Mandalay General Hospital who arrived in the country on Wednesday,” he said.

“We won’t have to send samples to Thailand’s National Institutes of Health for testing anymore because the NHL’s tests are absolutely equal to those in Thailand,” she added.

The NHL received the 450 test kits from the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Science in Thailand, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the ministry’s daily update, 37 people are under investigation and two are suspected to be infected with COVID-19 at government hospitals.

Thailand’s NIH cleared 36 of them after their nasopharyngeal swabs tested negative. One person who is being treated at Magwe Regional General Hospital is still waiting for test results from the NIH.

The ministry has approved the discharge of 26 suspected cases from state and regional government hospitals.

“The patients who have been treated at government hospitals are improving, and no confirmed cases of coronavirus have been found in Myanmar,” Daw Khin Khin Gyi said.

The government allocated K300 million (US$206,000) from the emergency fund for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, according to Health Minister U Myint Htwe.

China said Thursday there are more than 75,725 confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, and the death toll has reached 2126. Some 16,330 patients have recovered from the disease.

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern on January 31.

The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has proposed a temporary halt to tourist travel to and from China as part of the government’s effort to prevent the virus from entering the country.

The government now allows Chinese tourists to apply for visas online or at the Myanmar Embassy in China, but they must secure a medical certificate and assure that they have not visited Hubei province, the epicenter of the epidemic, for at least 14 days before traveling to Myanmar.

The country has stopped issuing visas on arrival to Chinese visitors and is considering closing its border crossings with China.

Source: Myanmar Times

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