The Myanmar Government announced today it would reopen schools from next month and take urgent measures to support its currency and accelerate economic recovery so as to restore national stability quickly amid an unprecedented ‘triple crisis’ situation in the country.
Myanmar is facing crises of pandemic infection, economic slowdown and national stability at the same time, a situation not shared by any other country in ASEAN or even Asia. Hence, even as the country pursues recovery, it looks forward to support from the international community, the Government said in a statement.
Based on latest data from the Ministry of Health, as of 16 October 2021 Myanmar had recorded 486,851 COVID-19 cases and 18,329 fatalities deaths (most of whom were aged 45 to 75) since the first confirmed case of infection on 23 March 2020. Currently, the daily average COVID-19 positivity rate in Myanmar is 7.7%, which is lower than that of some ASEAN countries.
The first wave of the pandemic started in March 2020 and the second in August 2020. In the third wave that started in May 2021, a high incidence of the Delta variant has been behind the 343,533 confirmed cases and 15,113 deaths to date. The Ministry of Health is still responding to the third wave even though cases have declined since July 2021.
Currently, 113 townships – about a third of Myanmar’s total – are regarded as ‘high burden’ and are under the Stay-At-Home (SAH) programme. The Ministry of Health intends to ease restrictions gradually, after ascertaining there is no community transmission after lifting of SAH.
Update on Vaccination Status and Vaccines
As of 16 October 2021, 4.57 million people were fully vaccinated, while 6.65 million people have received one dose each. The cumulative vaccinated population is 11.22 million and cumulative vaccinations administered stood at 15.8 million doses. Myanmar has received 31.3 million doses of vaccines as of 17 October 2021. These include:
Ministry/Organization | Type | Country of Origin | Amount (doses)
Ministry of Health | Covishield | India | 4,500,000
Ministry of Health | Sinopharm | China | 21,300,000
Ministry of Health | Sinovac | China | 4,000,000
Ministry of Defense | Sinopharm, Covaxin, Spunik V | China, India, Russia | 802,800
Private sector | Sinopharm | China | 700,000
Grand total (National Figure) | 31,302,800
Over October and November 2021, 8.0 million doses of Sinopharm are scheduled to arrive through Myanmar Government procurement channels. The Ministry of Health is collaborating with GAVI COVAX Facility (“COVAX”) to receive 4.05 million doses of COVAX vaccines, and separately 2.2 million doses of SINOVAC vaccine. Ongoing discussions to receive Pfizer vaccine from the facility are also in progress.
Reopening of Schools and Colleges by November 2021
To accelerate recovery of social and economic activity, Myanmar Government has directed the Education Ministry to prioritise the re-opening of schools which had shut on 9 July 2021 due to the spread of COVID-19. While schools were reopened on 21 July, the Ministry again closed them on 27 August due to the third wave of the pandemic.
The Education Ministry will re-open schools from November 2021 by working with the Ministry of Health to vaccinate all remaining unvaccinated students (mostly between the ages of 12 and 17, by the end of this month). Over 2.2 million students have been vaccinated nationwide so far. All teachers have already been vaccinated. These vaccinations involved mostly the use of the SINOVAC vaccine, with two doses administered over an interval of 28 days.
To facilitate the reopening, schools will be ranked according to health and safety readiness in matters such as availability of disinfectants, sanitisers, personal protection equipment, thermometers, face masks and shields, and of hygiene facilities such as toilets, wash basins, wells and water purifiers.
In view of some reports of civil disobedience, security measures will also be introduced in schools to prevent disruption and ensure the safety of teachers and students.
“The reopening of schools is an urgent priority of our country. Vaccination and health protocols are a pre-requisite. Hence, teachers and students, including those between 12 and 18 years of age should get vaccinated. Myanmar Government encourages students to complete at least lower secondary education and endeavours to nurture more educated resources for the future development of Myanmar,” said Education Minister Dr. Nyunt Phay.
Reviving Business Confidence Within Myanmar and With International Community
The Myanmar Government has identified the main economic and financial challenges as confidence in banking and financial institutions, reviving employment and business activity, attracting and supporting foreign investors and economic partners, and ensuring stability of the kyat currency.
MIFER notes with concern the ongoing four-prong economic sabotage by opponents of the Government who continue to try to stir panic in the financial sector while openly declaring ‘war’ within Myanmar. These opponents appear to be supported by foreign elements.
It involves attempts at disrupting international economic and financial relations in order to halt existing development projects and delay disbursement of grants, aid and concessionary loans; deterring inflows of Foreign Direct Investment by projecting a negative image; boycotting payment of electricity bills and of Government lotteries to disrupt revenue collection; and spreading rumours to trigger a local banking and financial crisis.
Despite the sabotage, the Government will do its utmost to support the economy as well as all Myanmar people.
MIFER has stepped up dialogue with leaders of foreign chambers of commerce and accelerated international economic exchanges. A notable development has been the highly successful virtual Myanmar-Russia business matching seminar held last month.
“Myanmar Government has already implemented measures to ensure continuity in the agriculture sector, including farmers and those involved in livestock and fisheries sector. We have also extended soft loans/financial aid to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs),” said Minister Aung Naing Oo.
“We detect a great sense of urgency among local businesses to return to normalcy. Our priority is to restore confidence, create jobs and revive commercial activity. Despite the challenges, investor confidence is clearly increasing. We are also greatly encouraged by the positive response of Russian business groups who are very keen to forge bilateral economic activities,” he said.
Supporting The Myanmar Kyat
Central Bank notes with collective concern the recent weakness of the kyat. To restore confidence in the currency, the following actions have been or will be implemented:
- Encouraging and strengthening online banking payments
- Tax reduction and incentives (waiver or deferral of the payment of rental fees)
- Regulatory and other measures to streamline online transactions, reduce barriers
to business and regulatory red-tape, and improving commercial transparency
- Issuing Central Bank’s notifications to have trust in the domestic banking system
- Regulating drawing limit from the banks.
National Security Matters
“Despite the efforts of Myanmar Government to restore political, social and economic stability amid the pandemic, those opposed to recovery have stepped up violence and disruption of the economy. The Government has a duty to ensure political and social stability and will exercise this duty with firmness and restraint at the same time even as it seeks to win investor confidence, and revive economic and social activity such as re-opening of schools and cinemas,” the Minister said.
Issued by Ministry of Information, Union Government of Myanmar
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