Business Article

COVID patients and health care services during Third Wave

September 17, 2021

Due to Third Wave of COVID, the number of COVID patients has been increasing day by day in Myanmar since late May. According to the released data from Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS), a total of 141,908 cases were reported from 425,119 tests with a positive ratio of 33.38 per cent and daily positive ratio of 40 per cent in July alone. There was a total of 6,000 deaths which is 58 percent of Myanmar’s official coronavirus deaths during the same period. In August 2021, the number of positive cases seem to be lower than July since the daily new cases in July was around 5,000 and there are around 2,000 in August. According to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS), the positive cases rose to 392,300 after 3,166 new cases were reported on 29 August 2021. Among these confirmed cases, 346,408 have been discharged from hospitals. Death toll reached 15,183. However, the actual numbers are expected to be far higher since many die at home with suspected coronavirus, according to funeral charities. We cannot count actual number of COVID patients in the country.

There are many reasons that could lead the massive outbreak of COVID-19 third wave in Myanmar. During third wave, almost every house has at least one infected person. Then, it has a high risk of infecting others’ family members living in the same house. Those people have to be isolated for at least 14 days at their home or at a quarantine center. However, the number of quarantine center couldn’t meet the rising number of infected patients. So, the patients with mild symptoms are allowed to stay at Home-Quarantine. In reality, not every people can follow the rules strictly because of the emergency cases. While one of the family members are in danger of shortage of oxygen, for example, the mildly infected ones have to go outside and find the needed oxygen, medicines and food by themselves. They couldn’t care about that they still need to be isolated being an infected person, they just need to save their family member’s life, first. There are many volunteers groups who are helping patients at home but they couldn’t reach out to everyone. In addition, long queues of people at ATM machines was continue to be common sight during these days as people need cash in their hands to buy the needed expensive medicines and oxygen cylinders or concentrators. Sadly, there was lack of social distancing in these lines which could lead a high risk of being infected. So, the numbers of infected patients are rising day by day but are not recorded in any official data.

There are some government general hospitals, specialized hospitals and military hospital providing COVID treatment. Quarantine centers like Yoma Yeiktha quarantine center, Inya Center (Mayangon), and Myanmar Convention Centers have arranged the facilities for the positive patients. According to MOHS, there are 12 private hospitals and 4 COVID test centers. However, some people use COVID test kits instead of going to the test centers since it is easy to use and can be done at home.  And MOHS also allowed five private hospitals to provide medical treatment for the COVID-19 patients but some hospitals do not accept COVID patients due to lack of facilities. High cost of receiving treatment at private hospitals hinder patients to receive treatment. Indeed, COVID-19 patients have to be treated at ordinary quarantine centers or hospitals depending on their severity. However, every government hospitals and quarantine centers are overwhelmed with patients most of the time. Especially in July, the infected patients had to from hospital to hospital but there are no beds left so they have to seek treatment at home. There are some volunteer quarantine centers but they have limited beds or food and medical supplies. Some patients relied on volunteer treatment centers to receive COVID treatment but they don’t have enough medical equipment or medicines. Thus, many COVID patients are being cured at home.  

The healthcare service in hospital or full-facility quarantine center is apparently much better than being at home. There will be doctors and specialists for particular infections and also medical equipment and medicines. However in July, there was a huge shortage of medicines and oxygen, so the family of the patient has to find the needed medicine and oxygen outside. That was a rough time for all those people.

Those patients who stay at home are apparently at a greater risk of dying. There won’t be any doctor for emergency cases and no medical equipment to make them feel better. That’s why the authorities ask only patients whose oxygen level is good and have no other health problem to isolate at homes. However, there can be emergency at any time. As positive points, those who are at home receive a warmth care and mental strength from their family. Mental strength is crucial to the COVID-19 patients. Once they feel depressed, the virus can beat them death.

The Ministry of Health and Sports, in collaboration with department officials, and charitable organizations, is preparing for quarantine centres in respective townships which are still under operating. So, there are still some people who suffered from COVID and die at home for not being able to receive any proper treatment. We do need research for actual statistics to see true picture and make proper plan of healthcare services for future waves. Nevertheless, this is all our responsibilities to follow the COVID-19 rules and keep ourselves alive in this third wave of COVID-19 pandemic.