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Top aide to ousted Myanmar leader dies in jail from coronavirus as nation struggles with infections surge

Top aide to ousted Myanmar leader dies in jail from coronavirus as nation struggles with infections surge
Myanmar politician Nyan Win, an adviser to ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has died from Covid-19, his party said. He was jailed alongside other key figures after the February 1 coup, which plunged the country into chaos.

The 78-year-old politician died on Tuesday in hospital, where he was transferred last week from Yangon's Insein prison, the National League for Democracy (NLD) party said in a statement.

“We promise to continue fighting for our unfinished tasks, to end the dictatorship in the country and to establish a Federal Democratic Union,” the party said, offering condolences to the family and friends of the official. Win was a lawyer and senior adviser to Suu Kyi, overthrown by the country's military during the February 1 coup.

Myanmar has experienced a surge in Covid-19 infection rates lately, with the UN describing the situation as an “alarming spike” in new cases. According to official statistics, Myanmar registered over 230,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

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The figures might look relatively good, particularly given Myanmar's massive population of nearly 58 million, yet the real situation is feared to be significantly worse. Coronavirus testing rates remain very modest in the country, while test positivity rates jumped from some 22% to nearly 40% in just two weeks, according to UN figures.

The nation's vaccination drive has been going on at an extremely slow pace as well. Only some 1.6 million people have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine so far, according to state-owned media reports.

The February 1 coup has greatly harmed the nation's coronavirus response with neither international pressure on the junta, nor mass demonstrations against it helping to slow down the spread of the disease.

Myanmar's military opted for ousting Suu Kyi and her government as it claimed the recent elections, won by the then-ruling party by a great margin, were rigged. In the aftermath of the coup, Suu Kyi was slapped with additional charges ranging from smuggling illegal electronic devices into the country to corruption.

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The coup and arrest of Suu Kyi alongside other key politicians triggered mass protests across the country. While somewhat losing momentum, the protests are still ongoing in Myanmar. The demonstrations have been marred by widespread violence and a very heavy-handed police and military response, which have left hundreds of people dead.

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