World Health Organization Employee Gunned Down While Collecting Coronavirus Samples in Myanmar

A worker for the World Health Organization (WHO) has been killed while driving a vehicle transporting COVID-19 samples in Myanmar's conflict-ridden Rakhine state, the United Nations (U.N.) confirmed on Tuesday. A Myanmar government health worker was also injured in the incident.

The ambush occurred on a bridge near the town of Minbya on Monday evening while the pair were driving from Sittwe, the capital of the Rakhine state, to Yangon, the country's largest city, Agence-France-Presse reports.

"The United Nations is deeply saddened to confirm that Mr Pyae Sone Win Maung, a personnel (driver) of the World Health Organization, has died after being wounded in a security incident in Minbya Township in Rakhine State on the evening of Monday 20th April 2020," the U.N. confirmed in a statement on Tuesday.

"WHO colleague was driving a marked UN vehicle from Sittwe to Yangon transporting COVID19 surveillance samples in support of the Ministry of Health and Sports. The United Nations is seeking further information on the circumstances of the incident."

The area of conflict has been in lockdown due to the ongoing civil war between Myanmar's military and Arakan Army rebels. Both the military and insurgents have denied responsibility for the latest incident and have blamed each other, Reuters reports.

Myanmar currently has at least 119 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Earlier this month, the country's Ministry of Health and Sports imposed stricter lockdown measures on the seven townships in the country with the most number of confirmed cases. They include South Okkalapa, Pabedan, Bahan, Mayangone, Insein, Shwe Pyi Thar and Hlaing Tharyar, The Myanmar Times reports.

The COVID-19 virus, which was first reported in Wuhan, China, has infected more than 2.4 million across the globe. Over 658,200 have recovered from infection, while more than 171,200 have died, as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates countries with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Countries with the most COVID-19 cases
Countries with the most COVID-19 cases. Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.
Coronavirus, Yangon, Burma, Myanmar, April 2020
A man, wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, stands at the entrance to his shop in downtown Yangon on April 21, 2020. Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing, the World Health Organization (WHO) advises. Getty Images