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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Asia on alert for Covid’s second wave

Maya Taylor

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Asia on alert for Covid’s second wave | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jérémy Stenuit on Unsplash

Last week’s surge in new, locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in China, serves as a reminder to the rest of Asia that the possibility of a second wave may be all too real. A similar surprise second wave hit Singapore at the start of April after it appeared the island nation had been successful in containing the new virus.

As restrictions are eased and some nations try to restart their economies following apparent success in controlling the virus, so new cases begin to pop up. In the last month, this has been the case for South Korea, Japan and Australia, leading to renewed lock-downs and flight cancellations.

Most of the new cases in South Korea have been reported in the capital, with many traced to Seoul nightlife venues, following the lifting of restrictions, and bars and clubs reopening for business. On Friday, the country recorded 49 new cases, which means they have now recorded a total of 12,306. Lee Hoan-jong from the Seoul National University Children’s Hospital is not surprised.

“A second wave of infections can come at any time until a Covid-19 vaccine is available.”

In Japan, experts say a second wave of the virus is extremely likely. 41 new cases were reported in Tokyo on Thursday, the third time that week that over 40 cases a day were detected. The capital alone has had 5,674 cases so far and, like South Korea, the recent new cases can be linked to the city’s nightlife. The president of the Japan Association of Infectious Diseases, Kazuhiro Tateda, says the real risk of a second wave will be in the run-up to winter.

“We do know that there is a lower risk of transmission in the summer months, which means that there is a chance of a second wave from October onwards.”

Meanwhile, Australia has not got off lightly either, with the state of Victoria seeing a surge in new cases in the last week, with 19 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases in the state to 1,836.

The uptick in secondary outbreaks of the virus, particularly in entertainment venues, has made the Thai government very wary about easing up on restrictions to allow pubs and bars to re-open up to date. (Even though they may be allowed to re-open at the start of July)

So, where did the term second wave originate? Michael Baker, Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago in New Zealand, says it was first used during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, where a second outbreak proved far worse than either the first, or a subsequent third wave. He believes a country’s chances of avoiding a second wave will depend on the preventative measures they take.

“New Zealand, for example, came out of a lock-down very cautiously into a virus-free country, so there were no cases that could start a fresh outbreak. Several other countries in Asia are also containing this virus in a similar way, so we will not expect to see many cases as they reduce their lock-downs.”

According to a report in Chiang Rai Times, the president of the Asia-Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, Paul Ananth Tambyah, says Asian countries that are still reporting new cases of local transmission are the ones most at risk of a second wave. This includes places like India, which on Friday saw its highest one-day climb to 13,586 cases of the virus. At 380,532, India now has the 4th highest number of cases globally.

Here in Thailand, 1 new imported case was reported yesterday, bringing total numbers to 3,148, with the death toll holding steady at 58. There have been no locally transmitted cases for 27 days, based on yesterday’s data. It’s hoped this will be confirmed as 28 days, later today.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai army medic accused of injecting troops with fake Covid-19 vaccine during UN mission

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai army medic accused of injecting troops with fake Covid-19 vaccine during UN mission | The Thaiger
Stock photo via Pexels

A medic for the Royal Thai Army was dismissed and his medical license revoked after injecting troops with fake Covid-19 vaccines during a United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. The “vaccine” was actually just water. The medic, who is also a lieutenant, apparently injected 273 Thai troops with the water shot and charged 607 baht, or around $20 USD, per injection.

A soldier noticed the bottles the medic was using for the injections were unlabelled. A superior then launched an internal investigation and found that the bottles were just filled with water. Under the UN’s orders, the medic was dismissed and sent back to Thailand. His medical license was also revoked.

Thai media first reported the news, saying that a Thai army doctor at a South Sudan field hospital was suspended from duty due to an investigation into alleged fraud. The medic reportedly worked at the hospital from December 2019 to December 2020.

Following the news report, Thai Supreme Commander General Chalermphol Srisawat confirmed that a medic had been injecting troops with water and claiming it was a Covid-19 vaccine.

SOURCES: Thai PBS | Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Japan asks China to stop anal Covid-19 tests after travellers report “psychological distress”

Caitlin Ashworth

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Japan asks China to stop anal Covid-19 tests after travellers report “psychological distress” | The Thaiger

After complaints that China’s anal swab Covid-19 test caused “psychological distress,” Japan has asked China to stop using the new, much more invasive method of testing on Japanese citizens entering the country.

For the anal test, reportedly done on some travellers entering China from overseas, a 3 to 5 centimetre long cotton swab is inserted into the anus and gently rotated to collect the sample. While it’s unclear exactly how many people have gone through the procedure, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato says some Japanese citizens have reported mental discomfort after the test.

“Some Japanese reported to our embassy in China that they received anal swab tests, which caused great psychological pain.”

The Japanese government made a request through the embassy in Beijing to stop using the anal swab test on Japanese citizens. Katsunobu says China has not yet responded to the request.

China started using the anal swab test in January. The anal tests are controversial with many experts backing the oral test as the most efficient way to detect a coronavirus infection.

SOURCE: BBC

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Thailand considering vaccine passport policy in bid to revive international tourism

Maya Taylor

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Thailand considering vaccine passport policy in bid to revive international tourism | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Thailand’s Tourism Minister, Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, says he has asked the Public Health Ministry to approve a vaccine passport scheme aimed at reviving the devastated tourism sector. According to Pipat, the government is looking to the World Health Organisation to issue a statement on vaccine passports before it makes a decision on the matter.

The Tourism Minister adds that having a scheme in place that would allow foreign visitors to bypass quarantine could lead to 5 million tourists arriving in the Kingdom this year. Nation Thailand reports that the government’s Covid-19 task force is also considering allowing quarantining tourists to leave their rooms after 3 days of self-isolation. Pipat predicts that the Russians could be first to return, with tour agents in Russia saying demand is high enough to support regular flights of between 300 and 400 passengers.

The ministry also hopes to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to the 5 major tourism provinces of Phuket, Surat Thani, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai and Krabi. The vaccines would be given to employees at alternative quarantine hotels. It’s understood there are currently 58 alternative quarantine facilities across the 5 provinces, with over 6,700 rooms and 13,000 employees.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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