COVID rates drop, first vaccines in sight

The rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to decline into the new year, with daily case counts dipping to between 500 and 700 this week. The number is a huge drop from a mere month ago, when daily confirmed cases ranged between 1000 and 1500. Furthermore, vaccines appear to be on the horizon, with Myanmar exploring multiple options. These include a new deal with India. In her New Year’s address, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said vaccine doses from that country would arrive in Myanmar by next month.

Despite the gains, the Yangon Region Public Health Department has urged discipline and vigilance. Dr. Tun Myint, the department’s deputy director general, said the coronavirus will be a part of life in Myanmar, vaccines or no. “We have to live with COVID-19 in the future,” the Myanmar Times quoted him as saying.

Economically, even if Myanmar manages to contain its second wave and end internal lockdowns, the global pandemic will continue to take a toll. For example, the manufacturing sector has suffered from reduced global demand, especially from the EU due to the pandemic. Likewise, the tourism sector has suffered since before Myanmar had a single confirmed case, and even if Myanmar achieves widespread vaccinations, international flight and visa restrictions and mandatory quarantines are likely to remain.

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