Myanmar coup leader says Russia to supply two million COVID shots

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Myanmar’s military ruler has announced that Russia will send two million doses of coronavirus vaccine from this month, as the Southeast Asian country reported another record in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

General Min Aung Hlaing, who led a February 1 coup against Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, said the virus was spreading fast in Myanmar and that senior Russian defence officials had told him help with vaccines was on the way.“I told them that I want two million and they will give,” he said in remarks carried by army-owned Myawaddy television.

Myanmar reported 4,320 cases on Friday, a record for a second successive day, and 63 deaths.

Min Aung Hlaing said last month that he was seeking seven million doses of Russian vaccines.Myanmar is in the middle of its most serious wave of infections to date, with efforts to manage the outbreak hampered by nationwide political chaos in the wake of the military’s power grab.

There have also been reports of a COVID outbreak inside its prisons, including at the notorious Insein, where at least 40 prisoners have reportedly tested positive on Thursday.

In the early part of the pandemic, many prisoners in Insein jail became sick and some died, but there was little COVID-19 testing for prisoners.

Overall, some health experts said Myanmar’s real rate of infection is likely to be far higher, given a collapse in testing since the coup and health workers joining strikes in protest.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA, REUTERS

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