Kyaw Thu Htay | DMG
24 August, Sittwe

Fifty-six nursing trainees from several Arakan State townships who have been tasked with helping healthcare workers in Sittwe amid a COVID-19 outbreak in the state capital are struggling to get to the assigned postings because transportation options overland and via waterways have been suspended.

The trainee nurses have already sat exams for their final year at nursing and midwifery training schools, and they were instructed to bolster the ranks of medical personnel at Sittwe Hospital by the end of August. But they will not be able to make it to Sittwe on time due to transport difficulties, said one of the nurses-in-training, who declined to be named.

“I received a letter that notified me to join health workers at Sittwe Hospital. I cannot go to Sittwe with my own arrangements because motor roads and waterways are blocked,” she explained. “It will be OK if the government arranges transportation for me. If not, I will go to Sittwe when passenger bus lines and ferryboat services resume operation.”

Passenger bus lines and ferryboat services commuting to Sittwe from other townships in Arakan State halted operations last week due to the recent coronavirus outbreak.

“It will be convenient if the government arranges transportation for us because we can’t know exactly when passenger bus lines and ferryboat services will resume operations,” said another nurse trainee who declined to be named. “I have made an arrangement to go to Sittwe on my own schedule. Now we need the government’s support.”

A 24-person medical team consisting of volunteer doctors and nurses arrived in Sittwe on August 23 to help in the fight against COVID-19 in Arakan State.

“We welcome all volunteers, either doctors or nurses,” said Dr. Soe Win Paing, assistant director of the Arakan State Department of Public Health. “We invite trainee nurses or health professionals working for private hospitals to join the medical personnel to help fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Arakan State.”

Eighty patients tested positive for COVID-19 in Arakan State from August 16-24.

Seventy-one patients are hospitalised in Sittwe, while three are receiving medical treatment in Mrauk-U, four were admitted to Buthidaung Hospital and two are at Thandwe Hospital.

The 80 coronavirus-positive patients reported in Arakan State from August 16-24 represent a dramatic spike in infections, and include the first local transmissions reported in Myanmar in more than a month. Prior to this month’s spate of infections, there had been just 16 coronavirus cases in total reported in Arakan State.

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