S'pore to send 200 oxygen concentrators to Myanmar amid its deadly Covid-19 surge

Ambassador to Myanmar Vanessa Chan (left) and Director-General of the Medical Research Department Dr Zaw Than Tun at Yangon International Airport in October 2020. PHOTO: VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Amid a deadly surge in coronavirus cases in Myanmar, Singapore will send 200 10-litre oxygen concentrators to support the country's battle against Covid-19.

The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) will work with the Myanmar Red Cross Society to distribute the oxygen concentrators to affected communities, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Wednesday (July 28).

Oxygen concentrators are electrically-powered medical devices designed to concentrate oxygen from ambient air. They are often used by people seeking to avert breathing difficulties while recuperating at home.

The new aid will supplement the Singapore Government's earlier contributions of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines, diagnostic tests, surgical masks, hand sanitisers, and other medical supplies to Myanmar, MFA said.

"These contributions, as well as donations organised by private entities and the Myanmar community in Singapore, attest to the strong mutual support between the peoples of Singapore and Myanmar in overcoming the shared challenges of Covid-19," it added.

In a Facebook post, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said it is imperative that the aid reach those in need directly, and in a timely, transparent, and inclusive manner.

An alarming surge of Covid-19 cases in the country has compounded the socio-economic and humanitarian crisis in the country, he added.

Said the minister: "Singapore remains committed to efforts by Asean and the international community to overcome the challenges of Covid-19, as well as facilitate a return to normality and stability in Myanmar."

Since June, Covid-19 infections have spiked in Myanmar, with 4,630 cases and 396 deaths reported on Monday, according to Reuters.

Medics and funeral services put the toll even higher, in an outbreak also linked to cases in China's border province of Yunnan, the news agency said.

Earlier this month, Myanmar's military authorities pledged to ramp up oxygen supplies to help treat Covid-19 patients, as residents described long queues of people desperately trying to refill oxygen cylinders in the city of Yangon in spite of an ongoing military curfew.

The SRC has launched a public appeal to deliver humanitarian assistance for communities in South-east Asia and South Asia through the Covid-19 International Response Fund, MFA said.

Earlier in the month, Singapore had also dispatched emergency oxygen supplies and equipment, including liquid oxygen, ISO tanks, oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators, to Indonesia, which is also fighting a new wave of Covid-19 infections.

Temasek Foundation and 15 companies from both countries are also donating more than 11,000 oxygen concentrators, which will be delivered over several weeks to Indonesia to provide additional support to hospitals there.

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