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Church steps up Covid-19 testing in Myanmar camps

Aid groups call the situation inside the crowded camps for displaced persons extremely worrying
Church steps up Covid-19 testing in Myanmar camps

Catholic volunteers from a response team conduct Covid-19 tests on internally displaced persons at a camp in Myitkyina in Myanmar on Aug. 6. (Photo: St. Luke Response Team)

Published: August 16, 2021 09:24 AM GMT

The Catholic Church has stepped up testing to detect Covid-19 in internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Myanmar’s conflict-torn Kachin state.

Myitkyina Diocese's healthcare commission has sent mobile medical teams to the camps for testing and medical check-ups, while Karuna (Caritas) is offering medicines, face masks and pulse oximeters.

Aid groups said the situation inside the crowded IDP camps is extremely worrying as maintaining social distance is very challenging and access to health care is unavailable.

Hundreds of positive cases have been detected in camps like Mai Ja Yang, which is under the Kachin Independence Organization area.

Maria Ja Taung, a displaced widow from church-run St. Paul IDP camp on Myitkyna’s outskirts, said she and her four daughters have contracted the virus along with 40 other people since Aug. 2.

“We need nutritious food but are facing financial difficulty,” Ja Taung told UCA News.

More than 100,000 people displaced from their homes are in the IDP camps in Kachin and neighboring Shan state.

Most of the state’s 1.7 million people are Christians, including 116,000 Catholics.

Renewed fighting between the military and the Kachin Independence Army flared up in 2011 following the collapse of a 17-year ceasefire.

The junta-controlled Health Ministry reported 185 Covid deaths and 2,674 new cases on Aug. 16, taking the total numbers to 354,279 infections and 13,263 deaths.

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