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Opinion
Clara Ferreira Marques

Myanmar’s Covid Crisis Is Testing Its Neighbors

The junta’s deliberate targeting of doctors has made a devastating surge in Covid-19 infections worse. It’s a reminder that inaction puts the entire region at risk.

Volunteers prepare to transport the body of a victim of Covid-19 to a cemetery in Hlegu Township in Yangon on July 10.

Volunteers prepare to transport the body of a victim of Covid-19 to a cemetery in Hlegu Township in Yangon on July 10.

Photographer: Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images

It’s hard to find logic in the actions of a leadership that attacks doctors and nurses at the height of a pandemic. And yet that’s happening in Myanmar.

In response to civil disobedience by medical staff after a military coup in February, soldiers have hijacked ambulances, arrested personnel and confiscated equipment. In a collapsing state, it’s helping to accelerate a calamity of unknown proportions. Official figures put Covid-19 infections at more than 310,000 and deaths at over 10,000, but the junta’s appeal for help last week, anecdotal evidence of overwhelmed funeral services and even new crematoriums suggest that’s likely a fraction of the real toll.