Updated: July 06, 2021 07:53 AM GMT
Health workers carry the coffin of a Covid-19 victim n Tedim in Chin state as more than two million people in Myanmar were placed under new stay-at-home measures on July 2 as infections surge. (Photo: Tedim Post/AFP)
Catholic leaders in Myanmar have taken a series of steps to check the spread of Covid-19 as the pandemic spirals out of control, claiming the lives of several priests and throwing health facilities out of gear.
Archbishop Marco Tin Win of Mandalay has urged the faithful to be more attentive to Covid-19 prevention as the country grapples with a third wave of the contagion that is spreading quickly nationwide.
“Please wash your hands, wear face masks, social distance and don't visit other homes as the new variant of the virus is dangerous as suggested by healthcare workers,” he said.
The prelate urged people not to lose hope and keep their strong faith despite the uncertainty and insecurity amid the political turmoil.
Mandalay Archdiocese recently set up a body to help Covid-19 patients access much-needed oxygen tanks and called on parishioners to make donations.
The rate of infections is rising and the death toll has risen, so we must be very careful about the danger of the deadly virus
“We need to do prevention as there is no proper healthcare service and a lack of volunteers and healthcare workers at quarantine centers. The rate of infections is rising and the death toll has risen, so we must be very careful about the danger of the deadly virus,” the prelate said.
Church leaders’ concerns come after the Southeast Asian country has seen a rising number of Covid-19 cases starting from Sagaing region and Chin state, bordering India, since May.
Three priests from Kalay Diocese in Sagaing died within a week in late May and several more priests are suffering from symptoms of the disease, according to church officials.
Hundreds of people have died from Covid-19 and hospitals and quarantine centers in Kalay town in Sagaing are full, forcing many patients to stay at home, according to media reports.
The spike in cases has prompted the suspension of public Masses in Hakha Diocese in Chin state and new burial guidelines for Catholics in Kalay town.
Amid the new outbreak, the clergy will not go to funeral houses and will instead wait at cemeteries to bless the deceased.
Effective from July 4, Mandalay Archdiocese has suspended public Masses and other liturgical services and will carry out funeral services with only family and relatives.
The Church played a leading role in raising Covid-19 awareness, providing religious buildings to be used as quarantine centers, contributing donations and sending youths to serve as volunteers at quarantine centers during the first and second waves of the contagion last year.
Thousands of health workers joined the civil disobedience movement to oppose military rule
The country’s Covid campaign collapsed along with the rest of the health system following the military coup on Feb. 1 and the detention of elected civilian leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi who had spearheaded testing, quarantine and treatment.
There is a lack of doctors, nurses and volunteers at public hospitals and quarantine centers as thousands of health workers joined the civil disobedience movement to oppose military rule.
Some 2,969 new Covid cases were detected from 11,024 laboratory samples and 42 people died, according to health officials on July 6.
Myanmar has seen cases surging on a daily basis along with a rising death toll, bringing total infections to 168,374 and deaths to 3,461, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
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