Burma: a stadium transformed into a field hospital on the front line against the coronavirus

Yangon | Beam of hope in Burma in the face of the coronavirus pandemic: the field hospital hastily built on one of the large stadiums in Yangon has become in a few months one of the best equipped centers in the country, with a rate particularly encouraging survival.

Built in September on the Thuwana football stadium, the Ayeyarwady center now has a capacity of 1,000 beds.

125 intensive care units, control room and modern equipment, relaxation areas for caregivers: the contrast is striking with most of the health infrastructures in the country, whose health system is classified among the most defective in the world by the WHO.

Fewer than 200 patients died of Covid-19 out of around 10,000 patients received, an encouraging survival rate in the country which has nearly 130,000 cases and more than 2,700 deaths.

Ayeyarwady and a similar field hospital in the northern city of Mandalay are now serving as training centers for medical staff across the country.

Dressed in protective gear, Doctor Htet Ko Ko, 30, has just worked 12 consecutive hours in Ayeyarwady in the sweltering heat. “Maybe we are winning” the battle.

“But new variants are emerging in other countries and they can enter Burma at any time,” he worries.

The center also employs volunteers in charge of a multitude of small tasks to facilitate the hospitalization of patients, such as the distribution of packages sent by their relatives.

“We treat the sick as if they were our own family because we know they are very lonely,” says volunteer Chit Oo.

The number of new daily cases tends to drop in Burma, but de facto head of government Aung San Suu Kyi has warned against any slackening.

The country has signed an agreement with India to receive a first batch of vaccine. Another shipment is expected from China in the coming days.

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