| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

Myanmar to use Chinese vaccines to fight COVID-19 in border area

Officials say China is sending two million COVID-19 vaccine shots to Myanmar this week to aid in the fight against a developing outbreak near the border, as a surge in infections in the Southeast Asian country spreads to regions of southern China.

Since June, Myanmar has seen an increase in coronavirus infections, with 6,701 new cases and 319 deaths recorded on Thursday, both new highs.

Medics and funeral homes estimate that the true death toll is far higher, and the outbreak has been linked to a slew of new cases in China’s Yunnan province, which borders Myanmar.

“Near the moment, the number of newly infected patients at the Chinese-Myanmar border is increasing,” China’s ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai stated on the embassy’s Facebook page, citing pressure on authorities in Yunnan to contain outbreaks.

The envoy expressed confidence that the countries will be able to work together effectively on border virus prevention and control.

The current outbreak in Yunnan began on July 4 and is centered in Ruili and Longchuan, two cities on China’s Myanmar border.

Following an epidemic in southern Guangdong province in May and June, this is the second cluster of cases in China using the highly contagious Delta strain.

Yunnan vice-governor Zong Guoying promised this week to establish a “fortress of iron” to stop further transmissions as he visited Ruili.

The United Nations said in a report on Monday it was stepping up efforts to combat an “alarming spike” in COVID-19 cases in Myanmar and expected the country to receive enough vaccines via the COVAX facility this year for 20% of the population.

The first batch of 736,000 doses of the donated Sinopharm vaccines being flown into Myanmar arrived at Yangon’s airport on Thursday.

Myanmar’s Union Minister Thet Khaing Win said the priority would be to vaccinate those living near the border with China to ensure smooth trade flows in the area, the state Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

The minister said that China was donating two million vaccine doses in three instalments this week, with a further four million purchased doses due to arrive between July and August, the paper reported.

  • Reuters