Myanmar Junta Arrests Doctors After Luring Them With Fake COVID ‘Emergency’

Five volunteer doctors working for a community-based COVID-19 prevention and charity group in Yangon’s North Dagon were lured to a house under false pretenses and arrested by the military regime on Monday.

The group was asked by phone on Monday morning to go to an address in South Okkalapa Township to attend to a COVID-19 patient suffering from a lack of oxygen. Three doctors went to the location and were arrested after entering the house, which is near the South Okkalapa Township police station, group leader Ko Chan Lay told The Irrawaddy.

Junta troops then raided the office of the charity group in North Dagon and two more doctors were arrested there. “It is unacceptable that volunteer doctors were tricked and arrested. I condemn it,” Ko Chan Lay said.

Junta troops also confiscated oxygen cylinders, personal protective equipment and medicines that had been donated to the office, he said.

Such community-based COVID-19 prevention and charity groups have been formed in various locations in Yangon as the city faces increasing COVID-19 infections and fatalities. Some striking government employees are reportedly involved in the groups.

It remains unknown where and why the five volunteer doctors are being detained, Ko Chan Lay said.

The arrests have provoked the ire of the public, as the junta seems to be targeting volunteers who are helping patients independently, rather than cooperating with it. The regime has been inviting doctors and volunteers to join its efforts to contain the virus and work at its COVID-19 centers.

The North Dagon COVID-19 prevention and charity group said it would continue to provide free COVID-19 consultation in other forms, and urged members of the public to help each other.