23 July 2021, Mrauk-U
U Hla Thein, a spokesman for the Arakan State Administration Council, struck a defensive tone on his Facebook page Friday as social media criticism has piled up over alleged medical oxygen shortages amid the Covid-19 pandemic’s third wave.
He posted on his Facebook page: “The Arakan State Administration Council is managing the oxygen requirements of hospitals in Taungup, Thandwe and Gwa townships. Oxygen is not yet produced in these areas. As the state military council manages the oxygen needs, it does not accept negative comments about the management of oxygen produced by oxygen generators to be built by private groups for Arakanese patients.”
The oxygen requirement of virus patients in Arakan State is currently 100 tanks per day, he said, adding that Sittwe General Hospital can produce 60 oxygen tanks a day and consumes about 150 oxygen tanks a day. The Arakan State military council provides 90 oxygen tanks a day, he said.
“The oxygen requirement in Maungdaw and Kyauktaw townships is about 20 tanks per day. No oxygen generator can start operations in a week. The Arakan State Administration Council is cooperating with the Tatmadaw’s Western Command to ensure sufficiency of oxygen for those in need. Some visionary people are joining our efforts,” he added.
Reports of Covid-19 patients dying without oxygen have continued, despite previous insistence from the local military government that the supply is sound.
A confirmed Covid-19 patient who was receiving oxygen treatment died of hypoxia in Manaung Township on July 22, the chairman of a local charity group told DMG.
Among Facebook users in Mrauk-U and elsewhere, some criticised the Arakan State military council’s request that the oxygen produced by the Nang Yeik Karuna Free Oxygen Assistance Association be distributed only to the public hospital.
U Zaw Zaw Tun, a member of the Sittwe Oxygen Plant Implementation Committee, wrote on his Facebook page: “There is nothing unacceptable about the need to deliver oxygen to hospitals and clinics.”
The Nang Yeik Karuna Free Oxygen Assistance Association, which owns the oxygen generator in Mrauk-U, has told the media that it will not accept military council control over its oxygen supply.