Church Steps Up Amidst COVID-19 Crisis in Myanmar
07/26/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – The Catholic Church has stepped up to help people affected by COVID-19 in Myanmar. The country is currently seeing a record wave of infections, and its health system is not equipped to handle the onslaught.
Myanmar’s economy has already been crippled by the Feb. 1 coup, which toppled the democratically elected civilian government. The resultant protests and infighting significantly weakened the country’s ability to respond to the pandemic adequately. As a result, people have to queue for many hours for oxygen in several cities, including Yangon, Mandalay, and Kalay, while seriously ill patients die at home amid the junta’s neglect of the health system.
Churches, which have already seen an increase in persecution since the coup, find themselves in the position of providing humanitarian relief and medical care to suffering civilians.
In Yangon, Saint Joseph’s Catholic Seminary has been converted into a care center for those infected. It is currently hosting fifty people who are in critical condition and are on oxygen. However, church officials are scrambling to acquire more beds, as fifty people remain on the waitlist for a spot at the care facility.
The Ephiphany Church compound, also in Yangon, has been modified to accommodate another fifty people who need care. In addition, a seminary in the town of Thanlyin was recently converted into a care center.
According to UCA News, Father Henry Eikhlein, executive coordinator of the Myanmar Catholic Church Humanitarian Assistance Initiatives (MCHAI), said the Catholic Church would play an active role in responding to the Covid-19 crisis offering humanitarian assistance across the country.
However, providing medical care is proving to become more and more difficult in the war-torn country. Father Robert Mg Ba from Kalay Diocese, which has transformed a religious center into a care center looking after 11 patients on oxygen support, said getting 24 hours of electricity was a big challenge.
“We have 30 beds and have even set up oxygen concentrators but cannot admit more patients due to the electricity problem,” Father Mg Ba told UCA News.
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