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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Australia to remain closed to nearly all but international students until next year

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: The arrivals section of the international terminal of Sydney's Kingsford Smith International Airport

Australia’s trade minister said yesterday that the country is unlikely to reopen its borders to international arrivals until some time in 2021, but will look to relax entry rules for international students and other long-term visitors. The country has been largely successful in containing the spread of Covid-19, success which it attributes to curbs on international travel and tough social distancing rules.

Simon Birmingham told the national press club that a quarantine rule for returning citizens could also be applied to international students and other visitors who plan extended stays.

“We can simply work through the 14 day quarantine periods that have worked so well in terms of returning Australians to this country safely.”

The return of international students will be a boost for cash-strapped universities facing immense financial losses with the borders closed, as international education is Australia’s fourth-largest foreign exchange earner, bringing in 38 billion Australian dollars (US$26.14 billion) annually.

Australia’s had more than 7,300 cases of Covid-19 and 102 deaths. It recorded its biggest daily rise in new infections in more than a month yesterday, most in Victoria, the second most populous of Australia’s 6 states. Victoria reported 21 new cases overnight, of which 15 are returned travellers in quarantine, taking the total tally for the day to 22 cases, with some states yet to report their data.

2 Australian universities have announced plans to plan to hire a plane to fly in hundreds of foreign students stranded in the middle of their studies by border closures. University of Canberra and The Australian National University, both based in the nation’s capital, say they’ll hire a plane to carry 350 students into the country in July so that they can complete quarantine and return to class.

The plan has the approval of the territory’s government, but still needs a sign-off from the federal government. The federal government closed national borders in March to prevent the spread and importation of the coronavirus.

“We are pulling out all stops to welcome back our continuing international students to campus, and to the vibrant Canberra community, as soon and as safely as possible.”

The universities did not say from which country the flight would depart. A spokeswoman said the universities may arrange a flight from a regional travel hub so students from various countries can get on board. The “pilot program,” as the universities call it, would be for older foreign students who have previously studied in Canberra and whose work was interrupted by the abrupt border closure.

Foreign students have become a major revenue source for Australian universities; since the border closures were enacted, universities have said they might lose 16 billion Australian dollars in revenue by 2023 due to foreign students being shut out.

SOURCES: Reuters | SCMP

 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Gosport

    Friday, June 19, 2020 at 8:15 am

    Great policy, undo it untill the vaccine comes

  2. Avatar

    Issan John

    Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    … but … but … that can’t be right!

    One of the experts commenting here said only yesterday that Thailand was getting left behind as Australia, along with Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, had thrown open their borders with no quarantine and just tests on arrival.

    Surely they couldn’t be wrong ….. ?

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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)

For travellers to Phuket, testing is out, quarantine is in

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong (via Facebook)

The on-again-off-again plans for testing people for Covid-19 as they arrive in Phuket will be replaced by quarantine after May 15, according to Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong’s latest announcement. In an online video broadcast last night, the vice governor confirmed the new scheme after Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew first mentioned it in an executive meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday.

There are now 25 provinces on the Phuket red zone list that they instated on April 22, with anyone arriving from those places required to have proof that they are either fully vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19 within the last 72 hours. Without proof, people have to take a rapid antigen test to confirm they did not have Covid-19 before they would be allowed on the island. The test was first set to be 300 baht for everyone, and later controversially made free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

There had been some back and forth with budget concerns of being able to provide the mass testing and who would pay how much for continued testing. Perhaps requiring people to quarantine in Phuket is cheaper than testing them when they arrive. The original scheme was set to expire May 15, and announcements were made about extending the plan and stopping testing right away. For now, this debate seems to have settled on replacing the testing with a mandatory quarantine upon entering Phuket.

The vice-governor explained that the rapid antigen test will continue through May 14, and then starting May 15, anyone who arrives without a vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arriving in Phuket will be required to quarantine for 14 days. They set a goal of zero new infections by the end of the next two weeks. And he stated they are committed to doing whatever it takes as “Phuket cannot continue with this risk”.

Speaking to The Phuket News… “We want to send a sign to the country that we are cleaning up our province. The 3 vice governors [in Phuket] have been ordered to take care of each district by cooperating with local administration officers as well as community leaders to do proactive screening,”

After announcing the quarantine plan for Phuket, the vice governor spoke confidently that in the near future the island will have enough jabs to vaccinate every person on the island. Religious leaders from any faith are currently being vaccinated because of their general proximity to people during religious ceremonies and practices.

Vice Governor Piyapong pled with people with the people of Phuket who were on the fence about Covid-19 vaccinations, anti-vaxxers, or those otherwise resisting getting the jabs needed to reach herd immunity.

“If you are still deciding whether or not to get vaccinated, please come to get vaccinated”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Thailand

Saturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Stock photo by Mufid Majnun for Unsplash

The tally for Covid-related infections and deaths reported over the past 24 hours reports 19 new deaths and 2,419 cases. There have been 52,411 confirmed Covid-19 infections in the recent outbreak with more than 16,000 cases in Bangkok, the epicentre of infections. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has reported a total of 81,274 Covid-19 infections and 382 coronavirus-related deaths.

Thailand now has 29,473 active Covid-19 cases. Most patients with Covid-19 are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. More than 1,000 Covid-19 patients are in critical condition including 380 people on ventilators.

Out of the 2,419 new cases, more than 1,000 cases were detected in Bangkok. Most cases were local transmissions or detected through active case finding.

Of the 19 new coronavirus-related deaths, most were in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. The majority of deaths were the elderly and many of them contracted the virus from infected family members or friends.

Over the past week, new clusters of Covid-19 infections have been detected in crowded Bangkok neighbourhoods, including the Klong Toey slum, Ban Khing and Bang Kae districts. Poor communities in Bangkok have been seen as vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks as people live in close proximity to each other and many cannot afford to stop working to abide by stay-at-home orders. CCSA spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun says active case finding in Bangkok clusters have been “beefed up.”

With cases in Bangkok still on the rise, the current disease control measures imposed in the capital will be extended until May 17. Schools and entertainment venues must remain closed.

Provincial totals, thanks to the NBT…

Saturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerSaturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerSaturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerSaturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerSaturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerSaturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerDistricts in Bangkok with the highest number of confirmed cases…

District New cases
Khlong Toey 37
Ratchathewi 26
Pathumwan 24
Bang Kapi 13
Chatuchak 11
Don Mueang 9
Lat Phrao 9
Dusit 8
Yan Nawa 7
Wang Thonglang 7

Saturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

Saturday Covid UPDATE: 2,419 new infections and 19 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

Active Covid-19 cases in Thailand as of 7 May 2021, according to Worldometers.

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Like Songkran, Sri Lanka New Year’s brings Covid-19 wave

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Sri Lanka is now being hard hit by Covid-19. (via Wikimedia)

Sri Lanka has seen a huge wave of new Covid-19 infections in part due to large New Year’s celebrations in mid-April at the same time as Thailand’s Songkran Festival. From the beginning of April until now, the island nation has experienced a fivefold increase in daily cases, with 1,895 infections reported yesterday. February had previously been the worst month in Sri Lanka’s Covid-19 history, but figures are much worse now.

On April 13 and 14, large gatherings crowded the street to celebrate Sri Lanka’s New Year’s holiday. The day before, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa address the nation with hope, saying that after cancelling festivities the previous year, everyone working together to reduce Covid-19 had allowed New Year’s activities to take place this year. Authorities felt that Covid-19 was contained in Sri Lanka and, while they did stress health and safety guidelines, the president encouraged the celebration of the holiday.

“It is my hope and expectation that all citizens without any discrimination will join the Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrations with fresh hopes, determination, and righteous thoughts.”

But the celebration was too soon, and by April 27, Sri Lanka was recording 1,000 Covid-19 infections per day, the first time this milestone had been reached since the Covid-19 first appeared. Lockdowns in more than 100 areas began, with private functions banned and school shuttered, but it was too little too late. 13 of the 25 administrative regions of Sri Lanka are now in lockdown, as the nation fights to rein in this Covid-19 wave.

As of now, the deadly Indian variant has not been found just across the water in Sri Lanka, but the B.1.1.7 variant has been prevalent in the recent quick spread of infections. Now Sri Lanka looks towards mass Covid-19 vaccination as the only solution, but jabs are in short supply. An order of 600,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from India’s Serum Institute did not arrive and only 1 million out of 21 million Sri Lankans have been fully vaccinated. 5 jabs have been given per 100 people, less than half that of India, which has inoculated 12 out of every 100 people.

Sri Lanka has now isolated itself from neighbouring India, sealing its border. The Navy is patrolling the waters to keep Indian fishing boats away from their shores. All flights from India have been cancelled and banned as well. Sri Lanka has followed in the footsteps of Nepal and Bangladesh before them in closing itself off from their Covid-19 infested neighbour in hopes of limiting the spread and not reaching the levels of catastrophe that India has.

Read about the current Covid-19 situation in countries around South and Southeast Asia: Cambodia, India, Indonesia, The Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

SOURCE: CNN

 

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