Myanmar, Rakhine State: COVID-19 Situation Report No. 09 (18 September 2020)

Situation Report
Originally published



• A total of 838 locally transmitted cases have been reported across Rakhine between 16 August and 17 September, bringing to 854 the number of cases. Cases of COVID-19 have now been reported in all 17 townships in Rakhine. Across the country, 4,299 cases, 68 fatalities and 944 recoveries have been reported.

• The surge in local transmission includes COVID-19 positive cases among the personnel of two United Nations agencies and 15 international and national non-governmental organizations (NGO), whose activities in Rakhine remain temporarily suspended.

• One person tested COVID-19 positive in the Taung Paw relocation site in Myebon Township on 31 August. Contact tracing, quarantine and other relevant measures have been completed. No additional cases have been reported in camps and displacement sites since then.

• Around 600 humanitarian staff from UN and national and international NGOs are currently in home or hotel quarantine, with many expected to complete their quarantine period in the next few days.

• Testing capacity in Rakhine continues to gradually increase, although the number of contacts currently waiting to be tested is significant.

• Testing is required for all humanitarian staff undertaking lifesaving activities and around 200 humanitarian staff undertaking healthcare activities have already been tested.


LOCAL TRANSMISSION IN RAKHINE: Between 16 August and 17 September, 838 locally transmitted cases, including one fatality, were reported in Rakhine State, which has now seen cases confirmed in all 17 townships. Sittwe Township accounts for the majority of cases (490) followed by Kyaukpyu (99) and Pauktaw (40). On 31 August, one case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Taung Paw relocation site in Myebon Township, one of the three camps for internally displaced people (IDP) declared closed by the Rakhine State Government (RSG). The primary contacts of the person were placed under a home quarantine. No other cases were confirmed in IDP camps or displacement sites. Countrywide, there have been 4,299 confirmed cases, including 68 fatalities and 944 recoveries.

TESTING CAPACITY: The Government, with support from national and international organizations, continues to expand testing capacities. In Rakhine State, there are three GeneXpert machines (two 16-module and one 2-module) with a maximum testing capacity of up to 100-150 tests per day in Sittwe; three GeneXpert machines in Kyaukpyu; and three similar machines, one each in Maungdaw, Mrauk-U and Thandwe townships. Swab samples from Ann and Toungup townships are sent to Pyay General Hospital in Bago Region, where one GeneXpert machine has been allocated. Countrywide, the average daily tests performed are between 3,200 and 3,700, through the COBAS, RTPCR and GeneXpert platforms in a total of 37 machines across states and regions.

TREATMENT CAPACITY: The Sittwe General Hospital (SGH) and hospitals in respective townships across Rakhine State remain primary treatment facilities for patients who tested positive for COVID-19. With a majority of cases in Sittwe, the SGH has expanded its capacity from an initial 50 inpatient beds to 200 for COVID-19 treatment. Additionally, Sittwe Nursing School has 40 inpatient beds available. Other facilities such as a traditional hospital, a university, a health center and a station hospital are serving as treatment facilities in Sittwe for asymptomatic patients with no comorbidities. As of 14 September, a total of 384 active cases were being treated across township hospitals in Rakhine, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS).

TESTING OF HUMANITARIAN STAFF: Humanitarian staff, including drivers, of organizations implementing lifesaving activities are required to undergo testing before being allowed to access camps, displacement sites and villages. The personnel of organizations who are quarantined as contacts to confirmed cases and have completed quarantined measures must still undergo testing to obtain a certificate from the State Health Department (SHD) before being able to resume activities. The SHD in Rakhine has prioritized mobile health teams for testing and certification to ensure timely resumption of critical healthcare activities. As of 12 September, 190 personnel providing healthcare services in Sittwe Township had been tested. The SHD will prioritize testing of personnel of humanitarian organizations implementing nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene; and food security activities.

QUARANTINE AND TREATMENT: As of 16 September, over 1,780 people were quarantined in 376 facilities across Rakhine State, according to the MoHS. As of the last confirmed figures from 12 September, around 600 humanitarian staff from organizations, who are considered contacts of confirmed cases, had been quarantined and many of them were due to conclude their quarantine period by mid-September. A total of 128 positive cases, including ten humanitarian staff, had been discharged from hospitals in Rakhine State as of 14 September. All people discharged from hospitals are required to undergo an additional 7-day home quarantine.

On 7 September, the MoHS reduced the hospital-based isolation period from 21 to 14 days followed by 7-day home isolation for patients who have “mild and moderate” illness as well as for asymptomatic cases, allowing hospital discharge four days after recovery. All primary contacts to confirmed cases will be tested for the first time on the first day of quarantine measure and the second tests will be conducted within 10-12 days during the quarantine. Persons with international travel history and those in townships with a “stay-at-home” measures put in place will be tested once within 10 and 12 days of quarantine period. If results are negative, persons may leave the quarantine facility but must carry out an additional 7-day home quarantine.

IMPACT ON OPERATIONS: The Government measures introduced in Rakhine since 16 August continue to impact the ability of humanitarian partners to respond to the needs. The operations of at least 17 UN as well as national and international NGOs whose staff tested positive remain temporarily suspended while humanitarian response activities of UN and INGOs have been restricted to “lifesaving assistance” only, as defined by the RSG. These include essential food assistance, healthcare, water and sanitation and COVID-19 response, while limited shelter response, mask distribution and communicating with communities have later been added to this list. The resumption of activities of organizations whose staff tested positive is delayed due to the limited testing of humanitarian staff, which is now a requirement for all humanitarian staff accessing camps, displacement sites and the villages affected by conflict.

The humanitarian personnel and partners based in camps have been allowed to continue lifesaving assistance within their specific camp; however, they are unable to move between camps to assist in other locations. The movement of supplies into the camps has also been largely restricted. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are generally able to access displacement sites and villages within townships. However, Sittwe-based CSOs that are partnering with UN and INGOs require Travel Authorizations from the RSG Coordination Committee to deliver assistance in IDP camps and displacement sites. In northern Rakhine townships, some partners have reportedly been able to continue distributions and essential activities in some villages.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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