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Myanmar’s general says Russia will supply 2 million vaccines as the outbreak worsens

(Reuters) – Myanmar’s military ruler said on Friday that Russia had agreed to deliver two million doses of coronavirus vaccine from this month, as the Southeast Asian country reported a new record in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Min Aung Hlaing, who led a February 1 coup against Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, said the virus was spreading rapidly in Myanmar and that senior Russian defense officials had told him that help with vaccines was on the way.

“I told them I want two million and they will give,” he said in remarks carried by Army-owned Myawaddy television.

Myanmar reported 4,320 cases on Friday, a record for the second day in a row and 63 deaths.

My Aung Hlaing said last month that he was seeking seven million doses of Russian vaccines.

Myanmar is in the midst of its most serious wave of infections to date, with efforts to control the outbreak hampered by nationwide chaos in the wake of the military coup.

Some health experts say Myanmar̵

7;s real infection rate is likely to be much higher given a test collapse since the coup and health workers who went on strike in protest.

Russia is among the few countries that have openly embraced the military government, which has been condemned globally over the coup and the deadly disintegration of pro-democracy groups.

The junta says most of those killed or arrested were “terrorists” who called for violence.

Min Aung Hlaing said Myanmar was eager to make its own COVID-19 vaccines and Russia wanted to cooperate and send a delegation to inspect its production facility during this month. He did not elaborate.

(Reporting by Reuters staff; writing by Martin Petty; editing by Andrew Heavens)

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