NAYPYITAW (REUTERS) - Senior General Than Shwe, the former head of a junta that ruled Myanmar for nearly two decades, has been hospitalised in the capital Naypyitaw and is in stable condition after being tested for the coronavirus, according to media reports.
Although he crushed dissent and kept the country isolated for most of his rule, he also ushered in a transition to civilian rule in 2011 that lasted until his protege Min Aung Hlaing seized power in a coup six months ago.
Gen Than Shwe, 88, and his wife were admitted to a military-owned medical facility several days ago in Thaik Chaung in the capital as a precaution, The Irrawaddy newspaper reported, citing an unnamed senior military official.
The Associated Press cited a hospital employee as saying the pair had tested positive for the virus and were expected to remain hospitalised for two weeks.
Reuters could not reach the hospital for comment and the ruling military administration's health spokesman in Naypyitaw did not answer calls.
But a government official in the capital who asked not to be named said Gen Than Shwe was in a stable condition in hospital, but did not confirm whether he was suffering from Covid-19.
Myanmar has been struggling to contain a devastating second wave of Covid-19 cases with the response by the authorities crippled after many healthcare workers stopped work in protest against the coup, though the army is now trying to step up vaccinations.
An average of nearly 300 people a day have died in recent days, according to official figures that medics believe are gross underestimates.
The military overthrew the elected government of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1, triggering almost daily protests and fighting between the army and hastily formed militias.