The authorities of junta-ruled Myanmar warned news anchors to stop using the word COVID-19 as the English word nineteen sounds like winning and beating. The news anchors, since last week, referred to COVID-19 as ‘Covid Sel Koe,’ a Burmese word for the word nineteen for more positive coverage of the pandemic.

The term ‘COVID-19’, when pronounced in English, maybe uncomfortable for the Burmese audience as the English word nineteen might suggest that COVID-19 wins and beats the people. A Facebook user wrote last week, “I heard that they changed the name as a boon because COVID 19 wins and beats the people.”

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News anchors on state news programmes had used English, ‘COVID-19’ in their reports for the last year-and-a half.  A senior minister from the Information Ministry of the State Administration Council on Wednesday has denied that the advice to switch from ‘COVID-19’ to ‘Covid Sel Koe’ was an attempt made to remove inauspicious sounds. 

The official told the AFP, “We used to announce the same pronunciation in Burmese and English in the past. But for a Burmese audience, we think we should change our pronunciation into a Burmese accent. We have no other reason.”

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More than 6,000 coronavirus cases were reported in Myanmar on Wednesday. The country hospitals are facing with shortage of oxygen supply and doctors.

The authorities, according to the state-owned media, has urged people in the country to recite Buddhist teachings to pacify forces and strengthen protection against the virus during the recent surge in coronavirus cases in the country.