MPs Criticize Chin State’s COVID-19 Response, Call for Greater Support in Teddim

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Four parliamentarians from Chin State’s Teddim and Tonzang townships have demanded that the government set up an emergency response committee to COVID-19 in their townships, and to invest greater resources in Teddim’s hospital.

There have been three confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Tedim Township—allegedly Burma’s first patient in the pandemic, as well as that man’s mother and the owner of a house where they were staying. All have sought treatment at Tedim’s public hospital.

Lower House Tedim MP Pu Cin Sian Thang and Tedim’s Upper House MP Pu Gin Kam Lian, along with Tonzang’s Lower and Upper House MPs, Pu Kham Kan Thang and Ceing Ngai Meng, respectively, sent their request for greater support to the chair of the national COVID-19 Control and Emergency Response Committee on Sunday.

“Teddim’s hospital needs many things. We need to send related medical equipment to the Tedim hospital on time,” Ceing Ngai Meng told Khonumthung News. “Tedim town doesn’t get electricity from the national power grid. Tedim hospital needs 24-hour electricity. Local people from Keptel village need to be tested for COVID-19 because they had contact with the patients [who tested positive]. We need medical coverage for these villagers. Then we can control the spread of COVID-19 there,” she explained.

In the open letter to the national committee—headed by military-appointed Vice President 1 Myint Swe—the MPs wrote those clear directives are needed for hospitals receiving coronavirus patients.

They asked that a technical team specializing in infectious disease be appointed to Tedim public hospital in order to test people who had contact with patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. The Chin State government, they added, must take responsibility for sending the test swabs to a national laboratory in Yangon for assessment. These measures, they said, are necessary to control the spread of the pandemic in the township.

Tonzang MP Ceing Ngai Meng also criticized the Chin State government’s emergency response plan as “weak.”

“I think the state government’s emergency response has been so weak. They need to respond in a timely way,” she told Khonumthung News.

Chin State government spokesperson Soe Htet admitted some shortcomings overall but defended the state’s response to the pandemic.

“We don’t have any experience facing this kind of virus, so we were not ready to isolate the patient and give medical treatment separately,” he said. “We have some weaknesses. Our government was faced with the first patient who tested positive for COVID-19 in the country… we paid attention to this case.”

Soe Htet said that Tedim hospital has electricity for 23 hours per day—eight provided by hydropower sources, and 15 hours from a diesel-powered generator. The diesel costs the state more than 12.5 million kyats (US$8,777) per month, he added.

As of Tuesday, Burma’s Ministry of Health and Sports had confirmed 62 cases of coronavirus in Burma, along with four deaths and two recoveries.

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