Ministries contemplate preparations, responses to COVID-19

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attended an emergency meeting on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday.

In her address to the meeting, the State Counsellor reiterated that this meeting was to discuss processes and action plans to ease the long-term repercussions of COVID-19 on the citizens of Myanmar.

She said the central committee was formed on 30 January and held its first meeting on 3 February and its second one on 3 March, with relevant ministries and organizations implementing the decisions made at both meetings.

The State Counsellor said WHO has declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March and this calls for Myanmar to strengthen and speed up its plans to respond to the virus, which include reducing long-term negative consequences as a result of the virus, increasing effectiveness health regulations to prevent its spread, reducing negative effects on the national economy, other sectors and potential losses, and disseminating health precautions and guidelines to the general public.

Next, the representatives at the meeting discussed their respective tasks in containing and monitoring COVID-19, plans to respond to announcements from WHO in a timely manner, and collaboration between the ministries moving forward.

The meeting also discussed speeding up administration of prevention and response to spread of COVID-19 to a certain time period, elevating the status of the central committee to better facilitate cooperation between ministries, reassessing government-led public meetings and ceremonies in light of the fact that COVID-19 is spread easily through mass public gatherings, having visitors to certain pagodas be screened for high temperatures, effectively quarantining and monitoring travellers from foreign nations where the virus has a high outbreak upon arriving in Myanmar, ensuring state/regional governments are able to preemptively highlight areas requiring quarantine measures, increasing public participation in health protection processes through the collaboration of the Ministry of Information and Ministry of Health and Sports, having relevant departments monitor for rumours aiming to misinform and agitate the public and countering with authentic news promptly, alleviating repercussions caused by the virus on trade and the national economy, swiftly finding solutions for the State to assist and minimize losses incurred by employers and employees of factories and workshops that have to close down, ensuring Myanmar missions in China are well equipped to aid Myanmar workers in China facing difficulties due to factories closing down, and issuing directives and requests to the public from the Union Government concerning COVID-19.

Present at the meeting were Union Minister for Office of the State Counsellor U Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Minister for Office of the Union Government U Min Thu, Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations U Thaung Tun, the Chairman of the Central Committee for Prevention, Containment and Treatment of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Union Minister for International Cooperation U Kyaw Tin, Joint-Chairman and Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr Myint Htwe, and central committee members.