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Locals line up with their tanks to refill oxygen during the Covid-19 outbreak in Yangon, Myanmar July 14, 2021. ― Reuters pic
Locals line up with their tanks to refill oxygen during the Covid-19 outbreak in Yangon, Myanmar July 14, 2021. ― Reuters pic

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NEW YORK, July 30 — Britain warned the United Nations Security Council Thursday that half of coup-wracked Myanmar’s population of 54 million could become infected with Covid-19 within the next two weeks.

The UK convened the meeting in response to what it called the “dire” coronavirus situation in Myanmar, which has “spiralled” since the military seized control in February.

Britain urged the Council to ensure resolution 2565, which demands ceasefires in conflict zones to allow the safe delivery of coronavirus vaccines, is respected in Myanmar.

“It is vital that we consider how to implement (it),” pleaded British ambassador Barbara Woodward.

The impoverished nation has been in turmoil since the junta took power, with many hospitals ill-equipped to cope with a surging caseload after many medical staff walked out in protest at the coup.

The UN estimates that only 40 per cent of the Myanmar’s health care facilities are still able to function.

The world body also estimates that junta forces have carried out at least 260 attacks against medical personnel and facilities, detaining at least 67 medical officials.

“With the new wave of Covid-19 spreading like wildfire across the country, it is unfortunate that more lives will be lost as the Myanmar military weaponises Covid-19 against the people,” said national unity government spokesperson Susanna Hla Hla Soe.

The junta authorities are seeking help from “friendly countries” to tackle the coronavirus, state media said this week.

Just under 5,000 new cases of Covid-19 were reported Wednesday, up from around 50 per day in early May, but analysts say the real toll is likely much higher. 

Around 1.75 million people have so far been vaccinated according to the junta.

Last week a batch of donated Sinopharm doses arrived from China, junta authorities said, but they would be prioritised for those living along the China-Myanmar border.

China has also supplied more than 10,000 shots to a rebel group operating near its southern frontier in Myanmar, as Beijing seeks to halt an influx of cases from the coup-wracked country.

The junta has ordered a total of four million vaccine doses from China, it said earlier this month, and Beijing will donate a further two million.

A shipment of 1.5 million doses also arrived from India earlier this year. — AFP

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