July 28 – Myanmar’s military ruler seeks stronger cooperation with the international community to contain the coronavirus, state media reported on Wednesday, as the Southeast Asian country grapples with a swelling wave of infections.

Senior General Min In a speech, Aung Hlaing called for more cooperation in the prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19, also with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and “friendly countries,” reported Global New Light of Myanmar. </ Myanmar has been in chaos since the military overthrew an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, with regular protests and fighting between the army and newly formed militias. Various countries, including the United States and Britain, have sanctioned Myanmar's military rulers for the coup and the repression of pro-democratic protests that killed hundreds.

The junta leader said vaccinations would have to be in the form of both donated doses and will also be increased by developing domestic production with Russia’s support, the newspaper said, adding that Myanmar will apply for funding from an ASEAN COVID-19 fund. Myanmar recently received two million more Chinese vaccines , but according to a Reuters tracker, it is said to have vaccinated only about 3.2 percent of its population. On Wednesday, a campaign began to vaccinate around 40,000 inmates in densely packed prisons that have recently seen large virus outbreaks, the state-run MRTV reported.

The military has been suspicious of outside help in past disasters and forced it People of Myanmar to help each other, despite a previous junta allowing aid via ASEAN after a devastating cyclone in 2008.

In many parts of the country people are desperate to find oxygen. The news portal Myanmar Now reported, citing witnesses, that at least eight people died at a hospital in Yangon over the weekend after an oxygen system failed.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the report, and the North Okkalapa General Hospital and a spokeswoman for the Health ministries were not immediately available for comment.

Infections in Myanmar have risen since June, with 4,980 cases and 365 deaths reported on Wednesday, according to data from the health ministry quoted in the media. Doctors and funeral directors put the number much higher.

Last week, prisoners in Yangon protested against a major COVID-19 outbreak announced according to activists at the colonial Insein prison, where many pro-democracy protesters are being held. </ Vaccinations began Wednesday at Insein and a prison in the capital, Naypyitaw, and would be extended to inmates across the country, MRTV reported, citing the prison department.

Efforts to combat the outbreak have been through some of the worst floods since Years in eastern Myanmar.

Although Min Aung Hlaing agreed to an ASEAN peace plan reached in April, the military showed little sign of implementing it and instead repeated its own completely different plan to restore order and democracy .

The military justified its coup by accusing Suu Kyi’s party of par rigging votes in November’s parliamentary elections to secure a landslide victory. The then electoral commission and external observers rejected the complaints.

But as a further sign that the junta is tightening power, the election commission set up by the military officially annulled the November results this week and declared that the vote was inconsistent the constitution and electoral laws and don’t be “free and fair,” MRTV reports.

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