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Myanmar doctors in hiding and hunted by the junta as Covid crisis ravages the country

July 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 19.8%. 2 min read.

A severe Covid-19 wave is devastating Myanmar -- a country already on its knees following February's military coup -- with people queuing for hours for oxygen in major cities and the seriously ill dying at home because they are too scared to visit understaffed, ill-equipped hospitals.

(CNN)A severe Covid-19 wave is devastating Myanmar -- a country already on its knees following February's military coup -- with people queuing for hours for oxygen in major cities and the seriously ill dying at home because they are too scared to visit understaffed, ill-equipped hospitals.

As Myanmar now faces its worst Covid-19 outbreak, doctors and volunteers who spoke to CNN accuse the military of using the pandemic as a weapon against the people.

They said the military has restricted critical oxygen sales to the public and refused sick patients at military-run hospitals.

When they do go to hospital they are often turned away as the facilities are running out of oxygen, treatments and beds, and there's not enough staff to treat patients, they said.

There are some people who die because we couldn't get the oxygen in time," she said.

The military junta said it banned some private oxygen plants from selling to the general public to stop citizens from hoarding, according to Reuters.

Charities have also been prevented from procuring oxygen by the military, according to several doctors and volunteers CNN spoke to.

"We saw notices being put up saying that now they (the military) will stop giving oxygen supplies to members of the public, because the notices say they are not being stocked for use in private hospitals," Kyaw Naing said.

The regime has also called on doctors, nurses, and other experts to volunteer at public hospitals and Covid-19 centers "due to a lack of manpower. " But doctors say the military cannot guarantee their safety and they fear arrest and possible torture.

More than half of those patients complain of fever, anosmia (lack of smell) and Covid-like symptoms," said the doctor, who did not want to be identified.

"Yesterday, two patients died when we were doing the consultation because there was a lack of oxygen," he said.

Another young doctor in Yangon said six of her patients died in one day last week; the youngest was 49.

The doctor, who said she was a medic during the protests and helped demonstrators who had been shot, said the military has failed the people.

The doctors CNN spoke to said while there were medical staff shortages and testing was lacking, previous coronavirus waves in Myanmar were brought under control.

In recent days, the military-controlled health ministry said it is aiming to get 50% of Myanmar's 55 million population vaccinated this year, according to state media.

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