Villages Under Lockdown As COVID-19 Spreads In Demawso Township

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By Kantarawaddy Times

Entire communities in eastern Demawso Township have fallen ill after outbreaks continue to spread from village to village.

“I didn’t believe it until I travelled to these villages and saw with my own eyes that everyone is sick. Some of them have lost their sense of smell,” a medic told Kantarawaddy Times. Out of ten people tested in Phukaya Khu, eight were sick, she said. So were two villagers from Paral Taw, both of whom tested positive. No one else from the village came for the medical check, she said, “probably because they’re afraid to test positive for COVID-19”.

Because it’s difficult to quarantine so many people during the conflict, villages with known infections are being sealed off, said another medic.

“The outbreak has spread too fast in the region and is really difficult to control,” he said. Villagers often flee the fighting and sometimes before returning to their village they contract SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, he explained.

“In Dor Tama Gyi and Dor Nye Khu villages in Demawso Township, almost all the people are sick.”

As the outbreaks spread, the health workers are struggling to treat people with severe symptoms without enough medicine, oxygen, test kits and personal protective equipment. They also don’t have enough fuel to reach the internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps.

Since May, the Burma Army (BA) has blocked supplies to the remote areas of Karenni State, making it difficult to buy these goods. The medics rely on private donations, but this isn’t enough to cope with the growing number of cases.

Before the coup nine months ago, those infected were quarantined in schools, but now IDPs live in these buildings.

As the transmissions spread, more villagers are fleeing renewed fighting between the BA and the allied Karenni Army and Karenni Nationalities Defence Force.

In mid-October, the clashes forced about 1000 people to flee to safety in the jungle. After it became known that many of the elderly were sick, the medics and other volunteers travelled to their camps to help them.

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