Simon, humanitarian worker in Myanamr – Global Perspectives during COVID-19
At the WCIA, we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 is difficult for so many people across the world. We are reaching out to people worldwide to share global perspectives on COVID-19, recognising the global nature of the issue, and some of the similarities and differences of experiences in different countries. We want to identify and share both the positive and negative stories emerging from the situation.
Paul Cronin is a former British military officer who spent 20 years leading expeditionary operations in Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Pacific before resigning his commission and moving into the humanitarian sector in 2012. He reached out to Simon a humanitarian worker who has chosen to remain in country during the pandemic.
Here’s his story:
“Generally, life has not yet changed dramatically in Myanmar. As of March 31st, there are 10 official confirmed cases of Covid-19. The government are issuing advice regarding mass gatherings, however among the general public there seems to be a collective delusion over the virus: I have heard a number of widely believed theories as to why the Myanmar believe they are “immune” and how the climate renders the disease defunct – none of these are based on fact and are causing the public to generally ignore warnings.
“There seems to be a collective delusion over the virus”
“The Buddhist national holiday of ‘Thingyan’ a Water festival (pictured right) which would normally see hundreds of thousands of citizens lining the streets in April has in theory been cancelled, however it is widely accepted that there is no will or way to enforce the decision and this is the greatest concern for a widespread outbreak.
“We have stocked the office with roughly 2-months’ worth of food and water, as we prepare for the worst-case scenario”
“Supply chains here as always are difficult at best, but we have stocked the office with roughly 2-months’ worth of food and water, as we prepare for the worst-case scenario where an outbreak will inevitably lead to a military enforced curfew and potential violence against international workers whom the government are blaming for the virus.
“The window for evacuating is closing fast, and even when flights are available it is almost impossible to prove to airlines that you are clear which leaves many of us with little choice but to ride this out as best we can and hope for the best.”