Disability in quarantine

COVID-19 response

Sai Han Linn Aung
UNICEF/2020/Sai Han Lin Aung
10 June 2020

HAKHA, CHIN STATE - U Myint Htay, 43, retired from military service when he lost his right leg in a landmine explosion in 1993. For the past eight years, U Myint Htay has been working as a mason in Gaut Kwin Ward of Hakha, the capital of Chin State, though his hometown is Pan Te village in Lewi Township of Nay Pyi Taw, in central Myanmar.

When the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Myanmar on 23 March at Tedim Township of Chin State, the Government began setting up quarantine facilities around the country, to contain the transmission of the virus. 
“I travelled to Kalay Town at the end of April to withdraw my pension, so then I had to go under observation at a quarantine centre in Hakha, from 30 April until 20 May,” explains Myint Htay.

“It was really difficult for me during my quarantine period. I have just a few friends in Hakha, no family or relatives. I couldn’t earn anything for 28 days during my stay at the quarantine facility and another week in home quarantine. That had a negative impact on my income and ability to meet my basic needs, my welfare,” describes Myint Htay.

UNICEF/2020/Sai Han Lin Aung
Myint Htay uses the handwashing station installed at a local school, now a temporary quarantine centre managed by the Ministry of Border Affairs in Hakha

“I lived on a daily dish of curry from the generous local communities who kindly looked after the people in quarantine. So, I had to make some food on my own during my stay too, and it wasn’t easy for me to even get water for cooking rice in my condition, since the main water source point was far from my room.”
Hakha’s quarantine centres have limited amounts of water available for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. UNICEF and Karuna Myanmar Social Services are providing the centres with hand washing basins, bars of soap and COVID-19 messages. 

“My health is generally good at the moment; so I will try to get on with my life after this. During my time at the quarantine centre, I learnt some good hygiene practices, which I plan to share with my friends and colleagues. I’m going to encourage them to develop healthy habits of frequent handwashing with soap. Doing so, not just at critical times such as after visiting the toilet, before preparing food, and around touching handles, but all the time, is our way to reduce the risk of transmission of communicable diseases,” enthuses the new keen advocate.