Elderly Yangon man is Myanmar’s first reported COVID-19 death

Yangon General Hospital. in an undated photo. Photo: Yangon General Hospital / Facebook
Yangon General Hospital. in an undated photo. Photo: Yangon General Hospital / Facebook

Disease control officials this morning confirmed the first known death due to COVID-19 in Myanmar.

The 69-year-old man, who had nose cancer, died at 7:25am at Waibargi Hospital, according to a department spokesperson. He had tested positive March 26 after suffering symptoms such as fever, coughing and sore throat. Before that, he had traveled to Australia for medical treatment for one month and visited Singapore for a short period. The man was moved into an ICU unit at Yangon General Hospital this past Wednesday and transferred to Waibargi on Friday.

Another 45-year-old man who was in close contact with the deceased also tested positive to the virus on Saturday.

One week after announcing its first known cases, Myanmar has now confirmed 14 cases of coronavirus infections, including one UN employee and three French tourists. The French tourists who were quarantined at a Yangon hotel tested positive for the disease last night. A Burmese tour guide who accompanying the tourists also tested positive several days prior.

On Sunday, Myanmar announced it would close all its borders to all foreigners except diplomats until the end of April. Foreign diplomats would be subject to 14 days of home quarantine.

Before any cases were confirmed, the Minister of Health had told reporters that Myanmar was ready to face the virus. But doctors working at government hospitals have complained about a lack of protective gear including proper protective suits, masks and gloves. Online, a photo has been circulating of doctors wearing motorcycle helmets and trash bags. Its authenticity could not be verified.

A photo purportedly showing medical personnel wearing makeshift protective gear has been circulating on Facebook. Its authenticity could not be verified.
A photo purportedly showing medical personnel wearing makeshift protective gear has been circulating on Facebook. Its authenticity could not be verified.

The country has been overwhelmed by thousands of citizens returning from Thailand who were advised to stay at home 14 days due to a shortage of quarantine facilities. Two migrant workers back from Thailand tested positive, according to the latest update from the Ministry of Health.

The government is seeking donations from the public to fight the virus.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the man had died at Yangon General Hospital. Although he was admitted there, he was later transferred to Waibargi Hospital, where he died.

Related:

Myanmar reports COVID-19 infections for first time

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