Man with underlying cancer becomes Myanmar’s first official Covid-19 fatality

A 69-year-old man with underlying nasal cancer died on Tuesday morning, four days after being diagnosed with Covid-19, making his case Myanmar’s first confirmed fatality from the novel coronavirus. 

Health ministry spokeswoman Khin Khin Gyi told Myanmar Now that the patient passed away at around 7am at the Wai Bar Gi hospital in Yangon’s North Okkalapa township.

He suffered acute respiratory distress syndrome with septic shock and Covid-19 with severe community acquired pneumonia, the ministry said in a statement. 

The statement said his underlying nasal cancer, for which he had received radiation therapy, contributed to his cause of death.

He had been receiving cancer treatment since early last year and travelled to Australia in February this year for a checkup, it added. 

He flew from Australia to Singapore on March 10 and on to Yangon on March 14 before developing Covid-19 symptoms four days later. 

He was admitted a week later to Yangon General Hospital, where he tested positive for the new coronavirus. From there he was transferred to the intensive care unit at Wai Bar Gi.

The patient’s condition turned severe on Tuesday morning despite the treatment by specialists at the hospital, said the ministry’s statement.

His son, 45, also tested positive on Sunday and is being kept under observation at Wai Bar Gi with two other family members who were in close contact with the deceased man before his diagnosis.

Myanmar has so far confirmed 14 coronavirus cases and tested just over 500 people. 

Four cases reported Monday evening included three French tourists in their 60s. They were tracked down by the health ministry and put under quarantine at a hotel in Yangon after a 60-year-old female tour guide who travelled with them in Myanmar tested positive.

Other cases include a 24-year-old male Myanmar citizen who travelled from Bangkok to Tachileik in eastern Shan State and then to Kyaukme further north. 

The health ministry warned on Sunday that Myanmar is at risk of “a major outbreak” of coronavirus after some 23,000 migrants returned from Thailand last week.  

Thailand has over a thousand confirmed cases including 10 deaths and Myanmar is struggling to properly quarantine the returnees. 


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