November 29, 2020

What Life Is Like In a Yangon Quarantine Center

Myanmar has surpassed an extraordinary milestone with over 20,000 active Covid-19 cases. Every new patient, according to Government policy, will be quarantined not at home. 20,000 people locked in quarantine centres! With overcrowding, the rumours are flying that conditions in government centres are horrendous. Yet one detainee tells a very different story.

As an outsider, there’s a sense of disbelief as Aung Myat Phyo recounts his pleasant-sounding experience of living for six days in Quarantine. “The food is provided for free and delicious,” the 30-year said with a sincere smile.

In every centre basic medical equipment is provided, a thermometer, blood pressure and oxygen tank however there is very limited nursing.

Today one of Aung Myat Phyo’s three room-mate lies in bed with oxygen pumping into his lungs.

“Of the hundred people in the centre, twenty will need oxygen, and five will find their condition deteriorates further and so will be transported to the hospital for intensive treatment,” said Aung Myat Phyo.

Both men and women patients are in the centre and all will be detained for 11 days. Every bedroom house’s four people with a tiny bathroom. Conditions are ramped. But over the days a sense of community is building among the detainees at the Aung Myint Mo Quarantine centre.

Those who are healthy care for the sick and each other. Aung Myat Phyo and friends check each other’s blood pressure, temperature and oxygen levels. If anyone becomes ill, they contact nurses outside the facility.

This is a way of bringing order to the destruction and chaos that Covid-19 is wielding. Aung Myat Phyo’s journey began a day before starting a new job when he came down with a temperature.

“Yes. I was wearing a mask everywhere and I did not go into a crowd.” The only valid explanation he can find is that he contracted the virus through food deliveries. The virus is known to live on plastic for up to 72 hours.

Many people experiencing mild symptoms would be tempted to ride the virus through at home. That wasn’t an option Aung Myat Phyo.

“I live with my wife, mother and uncle so I was really worried about them catching the virus from me” and so he set off to the Fever Clinic, then transferred to hotel quarantine to be tested.

The moment he received his results the fear set in. The rules are clear, he was off to quarantine. “Oh my god, how will I survive being alone” was his first thought.

There is no Center provided internet so people arrange their own. Yet disregarding the boredom, the stress, the lack of work; there are no fights, no arguments just a community working together to recover.

And all for free.

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