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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

21 coronavirus cases confirmed on cruise ship off California coast

Jack Burton

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21 coronavirus cases confirmed on cruise ship off California coast | Thaiger
PHOTO: wistv.com

21 people aboard the Grand Princess, a cruise ship being held off the California coast, including 19 crew, have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. US Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) officials are working with California authorities to bring her to a non-commercial port, where its officials can test everyone aboard for the virus. The HHS has given no word on where the ship might dock. It’s the second Princess cruise ship to be struck by the virus. A month ago, the Diamond Princess was quarantined in Yokohama Harbour.

“Those that will need to be quarantined will be quarantined. Those who require medical help on the cruise ship will receive it.”

The US death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 16 after health department officials in the state of Florida confirmed yesterday that two people who tested positive for the virus had died. It was the first report of deaths on the East Coast, AP reports. The number of infections has risen to over 200, scattered across about half the United states.

President Donald Trump, speaking at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said he “would have preferred not to” let the cruise ship passengers disembark.

The cruise ship was heading from Hawaii to San Francisco when it was ordered to stop and keep its distance from shore. HHS officials tested 46 people with possible coronavirus symptoms after reporting that a passenger on a previous voyage of the cruise ship, in February, died of the disease. On Thursday, a military helicopter crew lowered test kits onto the 951-foot cruise ship. It later flew them for analysis at a state health department lab.

In the past few days, HHS authorities revealed that at least 10 other people who were on the same journey were also found to be infected, and that some passengers on that trip stayed aboard for the current voyage, increasing crew members’ exposure to the virus.

The virus has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide and killed over 3,400, the vast majority of them in China. Most cases have been mild, and more than half of those infected have made a full recovery.

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | AP

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide

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Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | Thaiger
PHOTO: 3 million Covid-19 deaths recorded around the world.

Today marks a grim milestone as the Covid-19 pandemic officially crosses 3 million deaths around the world, with outbreaks still surging in various parts of the world. Over a year into the pandemic, and we are currently seeing over 700,000 new infections and 12,000 deaths per day, with Brazil, India, and France facing growing crises.

The 3 million figure reflects official numbers, though many suspect that real totals could be much higher, pointing at government conspiracies and early deaths that were not attributed to Covid-19 when little was known about the novel coronavirus in the early days.

Still, the official number is overwhelming enough – equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine, or the state of Arkansas in the US, and larger than world cities like Lisbon, Caracas, Dubai, Manchester or Chicago. Imagine nearly one-third of the people in Bangkok wiped out, or the entire nation of Armenia or Jamaica.

Following a steep decline in both new infections and deaths at the start of this year, the graph is again in an upward trajectory, both in terms of new cases and deaths from Covid.

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | News by ThaigerThe World Health Organisation laments the dire condition of the world dealing with the pandemic after 16 months and so many opportunities to prevent the spread with basic safety precautions. Brazil has spiralled out of control, racking up 3,000 deaths a day, nearly 25% of all the Covid-19 deaths in the world in the past few weeks. New variants have been spreading like wildfire throughout Brazil as more dangerous strains have wriggled their way into countries around the world.

In India, the distribution of vaccines has been thwarted by swelling Covid-19 outbreaks and deaths. In New Dehli, 13,000 infections were reported in a day amongst the 29 million residents, but the city only has 178 ventilators available as of Wednesday.

Only 1.1% of the Indian populations has been vaccinated, and officials faced criticism of their vaccine exports while so many need jabs domestically. In Thailand, the percentage of people vaccinated is even lower.

700 million vaccines have been distributed worldwide, but they have been shipped disproportionately to the wealthier populations throughout the world. In rich countries, 1 in 4 people have been vaccinated, while in poor countries that number is less than 1 in 500. In fact, 87% of the vaccines distributed worldwide have been to wealthy nations, and the delays in India due to increasing Covid-19 deaths will not help close that gap for many months to come.

SOURCE: Sky

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals

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Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Artist rendering of a "hospitel" - a hotel converted to a hospital.

With the third wave of Covid-19 ripping through Thailand, hospitals are rapidly filling up and the Thai Hotels Association has proposed “hospitels” as a creative solution. The portmanteau of “hospital” and “hotel” is the THA’s brainchild for creating more space for the growing number of Covid-19 infections that require treatment or at least observation as Thailand hits record daily case numbers. The idea of turning hotels into temporary hospitals was promoted by association president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi this week.

“The move aims to reduce crowdedness at hospitals and promote continuous care for Covid-19 patients after new cases increased rapidly since late March.”

23 hotels have already registered to be hospitals, with 2,000 patients currently receiving treatment in the 4,900 available beds. The Ministry of Public Health laid out guidelines for hotels interested in participating. Hotels must have a minimum of 30 rooms and pass the alternative state quarantine evaluation. The ASQ-approved properties must have evidence of acknowledgement by the surrounding community to confirm their validity and eligibility. The hotel must be able and willing to take care of hospitalised patients for 5 to 7 days, even with no signs of symptom progression. Conversely, patients checking in must agree to stay in the hotel and be relatively self-sufficient.

Strict medical requirements must be met as well. Each patient must be provided with their own digital thermometer and pulse oximeter, and a portable x-ray machine must be available. The hotels must be staffed like hospitals, with at least one doctor, a clinical psychologist, a pharmacist, a radiologist, and an infection control nurse. There must also be one nurse per every 20 patients staying at the property.

This proposed solution might provide a welcomed supplement to the rudimentary field hospitals the Thai army has been hastily building to accommodate the influx of newly infected patients. While the quick work is commendable, some have hypothesized that at-risk foreigners may be ignoring calls to come forward for Covid-19 testing in part because being diagnosed may land them in these less-than-posh field hospitals for days on end. A more comfortable “hospitel” would allow infected foreigners to be treated in more pleasant surroundings thus encouraging them to come forward for testing.

SOURCE: National News Bureau and Nation Thailand

 

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Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break.

Tim Newton

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Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break. | Thaiger

…. before the next round of restrictions come into force at midnight tonight.

Bangkok and 17 other Thai provinces (there are 77 in total) are now declared maximum control areas. These “red zones” are the feature of the Thai Government’s new restrictions to get a grip on its rising Covid infection numbers since the start of April. The restrictions will last for at least 14 days.

From tonight, at midnight, some new restrictions are in force, not only in the red zones but every where else.

Think nightlife, think gatherings of more than 50 people, think restaurants. These are the area the government has generally targeted. The CCSA spokesperson yesterday, and the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, went out of their way to portray the new restrictions as NOT curfews and NOT lockdowns. But, if you live in a red zone province, including Bangkok, then the new set of restrictions are a lockdown in just about every sense without outright telling people to stay at home.

Everything will have to be closed from 11pm – 4am in the morning, including all convenience stores. Hope you’ve paid your Netflix subscription!

The government is also advising businesses in Bangkok, and other red zone provinces, to allow employees to work from home, or have adequate precautions in place if they need to work in the offices.

Unlike the last two outbreaks of Covid within Thailand, this cluster has emerged from the indulgences of Bangkok’s hi-sos, celebrity and look-at-me culture. The trendy clubs around Thong Lor and Ekkamai are the destination for people that want, or need, to be seen, including some politicians who have either ended up infected or knew someone in the club and pub scene and have had to self-isolate.

The late evening sojourns, with nary a care for masks or social distancing, small spaces, lots of people… it has proven the perfect breeding ground for a new Covid cluster.

Bangkok’s legendary shopping centres and community malls will have to shut their doors by 9pm, a situation now across the board for all Thai shopping centres including places like your local Tesco mall.

But convenience stores, supermarkets, community markets can stay open until 11pm.

At this stage people are being advised not to travel to Bangkok, or any other red zone province, for the next 2 week (after midnight tonight). The travel advisory isn’t an order at this stage, more of a hurry-up-and-get-back-from-your-holidays request.

Last weekend saw the mass exodus out of the city. The same return from the provinces is happening today and tomorrow. Even though the official Songkran holiday ran from Tuesday to Thursday this week, plenty of people have take the Mondays and Friday off last week to end up with an extended 9 day holiday. The government was hoping the longer Songkran break would be a boon for the shattered hospitality and tourism businesses. But last weekends sudden climb of new Covid infections caused some people to cancel or postpone their bookings.

The annual Songkran road toll, usually a national disgrace, was cut by over 50% this year due to the lack of traffic and people deciding to wait it out and catch up with their families later.

Thailand recorded 1,547 new infections around Thailand today, a slight drop from yesterdays’ 1,585 reported new cases. But the last 4 days have revealed the largest list of daily infections since the first case was detected in Thailand on January 13 last year, a 61 year old Chinese passenger on a flight from Wuhan to Suvarnabhumi – the first known case of the novel coronavirus outside of China.

2 leading police from the Thong Lor police station have already been sidelined into inactive posts, a face-saving measure to show the government were being pro-active in reacting to the sloppy enforcement (or non-existent enforcement) of Covid precautions in the district’s active nightlife. Officials are also tracking down the owners of the nightclubs and bars for potential prosecution, principally around Bangkok and in Phuket where parties, promoted and run by a group called ‘Kolour’ ended up becoming Covid spreader events.

Here’s a list of the red zone provinces.

1. Bangkok
2. Chiang Mai
3. Chon Buri
4. Samut Prakan
5. Prachuap Khiri Kan
6. Samut Sakhon
7. Pathum Thani
8. Nakhon Pathom
9. Phuket
10. Nakhon Ratchasima
11. Nonthaburi
12. Songkhla
13. Tak
14. Udon Thani
15. Suphanburi
16. Sa Kaeo
17. Rayong
18. Khon Kaen

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