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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Australia on guard as Covid-19 cases jump in Victoria

Maya Taylor

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Australia on guard as Covid-19 cases jump in Victoria | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Weyne Yew on Unsplash
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Restrictions have been tightened once again in the Australian state of Victoria, as a surge in new Covid-19 cases has officials on high alert. A state of emergency has been prolonged by a further 4 weeks, and private homes can now have no more than 5 visitors at a time, down from the previous 10. Plans to increase the number of customers allowed in bars and restaurants at any one time have been shelved for the time being.

Australia’s relatively small number of 7,461 cases in total is the result of the country closing its borders early on in the outbreak and placing strict quarantine requirements on returning residents, as well as instigating extensive testing and tough social distancing rules. Out of 116 new cases recorded in the state last week, 87 of them are cases of local transmission.

Brendan Murphy, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, says the rise in cases in Victoria appears to be linked to family gatherings, with some people who tested positive or had come into contact with an infected person, not self-quarantining.

Authorities in Victoria are now warning against travel to six areas in Melbourne, the state capital, and other states seeing what’s happening in Victoria may decide to keep their borders closed past July. Meanwhile, PM Scott Morrison is calling for inter-state travel to be allowed in order to revive domestic tourism and help the country’s devastated economy.

However, a report in Nation Thailand says the spike in cases in Victoria comes as South Korea, the US and Israel also experience a surge in new cases, leading to the quandary of how to jump-start the global economy while simultaneously trying to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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1 Comment

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    Schaelchli

    June 22, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Dear Maya, l wonder why you use the words second wave, spike, surge on this numbers for Australia. If you want to have attention please stay to an objective opinion and do not mislead the readers so they become scared. And just because the figures are too low, you start to mention weekly figured to make a bigger impression.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

State quarantine for Thais entering Singapore, while harder hit nations get a pass

Jack Burton

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State quarantine for Thais entering Singapore, while harder hit nations get a pass | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bloomberg

Singapore’s government will continue to require that all Thai arrivals to the city-state undergo a 14 day mandatory state quarantine before being allowed to enter the country and mingle with the general population.

Singapore, which has 45,298 total cases, says that Thais must serve their “Stay Home Notice” at dedicated government quarantine facilities. Arrivals from China, which has seen a total of 83,581 cases, Germany, with 198,765 cases, and Japan with 20,174, among other countries, will only need to be tested upon arrival and do not have to carry out their quarantine in government facilities. There has been no official explanation for the unfounded snub of people from Thailand.

Thailand was not included on a list of exempted countries, despite having only 3,197 cases out of a population greater than that of the UK.

Only days ago, the UK, with the eighth highest number of infections in the world, gave a similar snub to Thailand, actually including, then later removing, it from its “green light list,” despite the kingdom’s remarkable success in containing the virus, recovery rate of over 95% and no local infections for 44 consecutive days.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

US delegation arrives, submits to Covid-19 screening

Jack Burton

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US delegation arrives, submits to Covid-19 screening | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: SMART Soldiers Strong ARMY Facebook page

The chief of staff of the US army, General James C. McConville, arrived in Thailand today with an entourage for a 2 day trip, at the invitation of the Royal Thai Army. He has also granted permission for the publication of the results of his Covid-19 swab test. McConville and his entourage landed at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport at 10:15am after completing an official visit to Singapore. The entire delegation had to undergo Covid-19 tests immediately upon arrival.

Army chief Apirat Kongsompong was on hand to welcome his guests as well as provide information on the preventive measures Thailand has taken, leading to its success in containing the spread of the virus, an extremely low mortality rate and a recovery rate of over 95%. The US delegation is the first group of government guests to arrive since the fifth phase of the easing of lockdown measures was announced.

The guests, as well as Thai Army officials, are required to strictly follow measures set out by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, including ensuring seats in all vehicles are partitioned, cleaned and sanitised as per guidelines.

The vehicles must also carry alcohol based sanitising gel and pads, waste bins for disposal, radio for communication with drivers and disinfectant spray for the driver to use to sanitise the vehicle.

The Thai Army chief says that if this system proves successfully, the government will use it for future official visits.

US delegation arrives, submits to Covid-19 screening | News by The ThaigerUS delegation arrives, submits to Covid-19 screening | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

In the midst of re-opening, there are now new lockdowns around the world

The Thaiger

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In the midst of re-opening, there are now new lockdowns around the world | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Checkpoints popping up around Melbourne's metropolitan perimeter - CNN.com

Countries that appeared, only a few weeks ago, to have their local Covid-19 outbreaks under control – Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore for example – are now seeing new waves of the virus drawing immediate attention from officials, locking down the affected areas. They know, for now, it’s the only solution to counter new outbreaks.

These mini-outbreaks in formerly ‘low-risk’ areas draws attention to the difficulties of containing Covid-19, even when countries have been ruthless with border closures, ‘lockdowns’ and quarantine measures.

In Melbourne, Australia’s southern city, it’s been a backward step as the country closed the state border between the states of Victoria and New South Wales, just to the north on the other side of the Murray River. It’s the first time the border has been closed in 101 years, since a similar measure was introduced during the Australian outbreak of the deadly Spanish Flu.

In Hong Kong, officials say they are now containing a third wave of Covid-19 cases following weeks of zero local viral infections.

In Singapore the numbers of cases were exactly 1,000 on April 1. Singapore officials were patting themselves on the back and praised for their quick reactions to suppress the spread of the virus in the tiny island state. Then cases started appearing in the accommodation areas where the large migrant worker population live. Today there are now 45,298 cases amongst a population of 5.6 million with at least 100+ new cases still being reported every day. 41,000+ have now recovered and there has only been 26 recorded deaths in Singapore.

Admittedly these case studies pale into insignificance when compared to the US, India, Brazil, South Africa or other countries in South America or the Middle East who are registering 1,000s of daily new cases at the moment. But it raises questions about how parts of the world, hard hit earlier, and now trying to recover their economies, will ever expect to return to anything resembling ‘normal’. Even if they do, the constant fears of another ‘wave’ of the coronavirus, or the prospect of re-opening their borders, is an ongoing challenge.

As well as Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, South Korea, China, New Zealand, and Israel (1,335 new cases in the past 24 hours), have all reported new Covid-19 outbreaks after initially appearing to contain Covid-19. Thailand has now reached 45 days without a single locally transmitted case but is still reporting fresh cases every day of repatriated Thais flying back to Thailand with the infection.

But, with the the latest knowledge, authorities are able to quickly ‘jump’ on the affected areas and better contain the spread. Most countries now have more developed contact-tracing too, all helping to minimise the spread of 2nd or 3rd waves.

Melbourne had just about fully re-opened when the new cases started showing up in the middle of June and is now reporting 120+ new cases each day, following almost 2 months of single digit daily infection rates for the entire country.

Now city residents are again confined to their homes, unless it’s for food shopping, caregiving, exercise or work. Cafes and restaurants, allowed to reopen just weeks ago, are again closed, going back to their delivery and take-out services again. All entertainment venues are also closed. Victoria (where Melbourne is the capital) is now being isolated from its state neighbours of New South Wales and South Australia.

“The South Australian Government has announced all residents returning from Victoria will be required to take a coronavirus test within 24 hours of their arrival, and wear face masks when coming into contact with others.” The South Australian Premier Steven Marshall says that all travellers from Victoria are required to self-isolate for 14 days, and submit for a coronavirus test.

The closure of the border with New South Wales is the first time such a measure has been taken since the Spanish Flu pandemic, 100 years ago. There are border towns scattered along either sides of the river border that are now effectively cut off from each other. Any Victorians needing to cross the borders have to register with the government and checkpoints have been set up.

The Australian experience with a second wave mirrors the response in China where swift, draconian measures are applied to contain the virus. Without a vaccine, it’s a blunt but effective tool to control local outbreaks of the disease.

Hong Kong is currently debating a return to lockdowns and restrictions. After weeks of relaxation and two months of few new cases, there is now around 20+ new cases each day over the past week. Hong Kong is a particularly concerning location due to close living and cramped streets. SARS, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, another coronavirus related to Covid-19, reached Hong Kong in March 2003. Over 3 months, a total of 1,750 cases were identified. During this time 286 people died of the disease. SARS proved to be even more fatal than Covid-19.

Now the Hong Kong government is again urging residents to be vigilant about wearing face masks, exercising social distancing, and public hygiene.

Daniel Andrews, the Victorian premier, says “I think a sense of complacency has crept into us as we let our frustrations get the better of us. I think that everyone knows someone who has not been following the rules as well as they should have. I think each of us know that we have got no choice by to take very, very difficult steps.”

His words ring true for every location in the world where a new wave or isolated outbreaks re-occur.

But in some parts of the world the first wave is still in full flight – countries like the US, Brazil, India, South Africa and other South American nations are currently seeing an acceleration of new Covid-19 infections.

For a developed nation with a world-class health system, the problem in the US is of particular concern, where the pandemic has become highly politicised. Even the wearing of masks, now seen as part of a community’s weaponry against infection, is being flagrantly ignored by sections of the US community who see their refusal to wear a mask as a sign of solidarity with the US President. Even the advice from the country’s Centres of Disease Control is now being openly challenged by some politicians.

Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and other parts of Asia, that tackled the virus earlier and ‘flattened the curve’ before others, are showing the difficulty of avoiding new infections, even in the best of circumstances. Where communities are mostly following health authorities’ guidelines, wear masks, are vigilant about social distancing and are educated about the situation… new outbreaks can still occur.

The ‘new normal’ for the world isn’t ‘normal’, but it is ‘new’. It’s been a century since the world suffered the loss of some 50 million people from the ravages of The Spanish Flu (some 500 million were infected with the H1N1 virus according to CDC and Wikipedia). Now, in a new century, with all the technology and accumulated knowledge, we are still finding it difficult to manage a tiny virus.

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