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Coronavirus UPDATE – 14,551 confirmed cases, first death outside China

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Coronavirus UPDATE – 14,551 confirmed cases, first death outside China | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sunday's statistics include the first death from the virus outside China - cnet.com
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“The Philippines has confirmed this morning the second coronavirus case in the country and, notably, the first death in the country and the first outside China” Philippines’ Health Secretary Francisco Duque III

Deaths from the coronavirus outbreak have now reached 304 today. 14,551 people are now confirmed with the virus. An increasing number of countries are also imposing restriction on travel to and from China in efforts to reduce the global spread of the virus, officially described as 2019-nCoV coronavirus.

The fatality rate remains at 2% with the current level of cases.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has confirmed this morning of the second coronavirus case and, notably, the first death in the country and the first outside China.

Duque reports that the 44 year old Chinese male partner of the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the country, a 38 year old Chinese woman, also tested positive for the virus and died yesterday.

In recent days Britain, Russia and Sweden have confirmed their first infections, the virus has now spread to 27 countries. Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, US, Germany, Vietnam and the UAE have all added cases to their lists over the past 24 hours.

Coronavirus UPDATE - 14,551 confirmed cases, first death outside China | News by The Thaiger

GRAPH: Worldometers

Both the US and Australia are among a growing list of countries that are putting temporary travel restrictions on Chinese nationals or those who have travelled to China within the last two weeks.

Australian officials have confirmed that they were barring entry to non-citizens arriving from China, while Australian citizens who had travelled there would be required to go into “self-isolation” for two weeks. Australians are debating the option of locating the quarantined citizens on the controversial Christmas Island, on offshore refugee camp that many nickname the country’s “leper colony”.

Vietnam has now suspended all flights from mainland China, effective from yesterday, while Russia announced it would halt visa-free tourism for Chinese nationals.

Thailand was mulling a similar change to its free visas-on-arrival but the Thai PM has asked his Public Health Ministry to reconsider their recommendation after the country’s tourism minister said the revocation would be catastrophic for Thai tourism. As of this morning, Chinese nationals can still arrive, albeit on a much-reduced schedule of flights, and get a visa-on-arrival.

The US, Japan, Britain, Germany and other nations had already advised their citizens not to travel to China.

The UK says it was temporarily withdrawing some diplomatic staff and their families from across China. This comes a day after the US State Department ordered embassy employees to send home family members under 21 years of age.

The US emergency declaration now requires US citizens returning from Hubei province, the epicentre of the current coronavirus outbreak, to be placed in mandatory 14 day quarantine.

With local anger mounting in China, Ma Guoqiang, the Communist Party chief for Wuhan, admitted that authorities there had acted too slowly.

“If strict control measures had been taken earlier the result would have been better than now.”

China finally launched into unprecedented action last week, effectively quarantining entire cities across Hubei province and more than 50 million people. Wuhan officials have been heavily criticised online for withholding information about the outbreak until late December despite knowing of it weeks earlier, according to a Reuters report.

Unprecedented safeguards are imposed nationwide include postponing the return of students to school following the Chinese New Year holidays, cutting bus and train services, and tightening health screening on travellers nationwide.

In Thailand, health officials announced on Friday that a taxi driver was the kingdom’s first case of human-to-human transmission.

Four Chinese airline passengers from China’s Hubei province, and one Thai citizen – a taxi driver – have now been confirmed as infected with the novel coronavirus. The taxi driver was the first instance of a local human-to-human viral transmission. The driver had never travelled to China, let alone since mid-December when the Wuhan coronavirus was first identified. Since his diagnosis, Thai health officials have traced 13 people who had been in close contact with the taxi driver, but none have tested positive for the virus at this stage – the update from the deputy head of the disease control department, Tanarak Plipat.

Thailand now joins China, Vietnam, Germany, Japan, France and the US with confirmed domestic infections.

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Top 10 things that changed in Thailand during the Covid outbreak

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Top 10 things that changed in Thailand during the Covid outbreak | The Thaiger

Things have changed. In some cases they’ve changed a lot and may never be the same again. Many people are suffering as a result of the impacts of lockdowns and the border closures. Entire industries, like aviation and entertainment, have been profoundly affected. Some people are being forced to re-invent their lives as a result. Fears over Covid-19 are causing people to change their habits and re-evaluate their lives. Here are some of the main things we believe have changed since January this year.

Face Masks

The now ever-present face mask will be with us for a long time. In Asia, it was never uncommon to see people wearing face masks for traffic, air pollution, fears of disease or just as a fashion statement.

In the Covid-era, mask wearing will now just become part of what we wear when in public spaces. When we leave home we’ll check if we have our keys, our wallet AND our face mask. Even when the government relaxes the current laws about the wearing of face masks, most people, we predict, will continue to wear them anyway, at least in the medium to long term.

Taking Your Temperature

It’s everywhere, it doesn’t appear to be very effective or reliable, but it’s not uncommon to have your temperature taken by someone pointing an infra-red thermometer at your head numerous times a day. The only people that appear to have benefitted from these temperature checks are the manufacturers of infra-red temperature check machines. But in the Covid-era they remain an ever-present reassurance that at least businesses are trying and want to be seen as contributing to the broader public health safety.

Xenophobia

Top 10 things that changed in Thailand during the Covid outbreak | News by The Thaiger

As Thais have pondered the reason their shops closing, their tourist customers vanishing and their income dropping, thoughts turn to the foreigners that brought the virus here in the first place…. and the vast majority of new cases recently, from OVERSEAS!

Either real or imagined, xenophobia and racism always creep in during times of national stress. Many politicians perpetuate the fears to their advantage and right-wing groups thrive on the blame game.

During Covid-19, Thailand has been a wonderful host to the hundreds of thousands of foreigners stuck here to share this testing time. And many foreigners have responded to the crisis by volunteering their time and resources to help struggling locals get through the worst of the local lockdowns and closures.

There has been a few, luckily very few, outbursts by some mis-informed Thai politicians, journalists and local keyboard warriors expressing their frustrations and targeting the foreigners as the butt of their frustrations.

Flying in the Covid-era

While the domestic carriers are all flying again, they’re doing it tough. Planes are sometimes half-empty and there’s certainly less choice of times and destinations, compared to before the Covid travel restrictions set in.

But it hasn’t stopped the budget airlines from making the situation extremely competitive with the fares still very low. The aviation industry will certainly re-emerge with fewer airlines as some will be unable to weather the Covid storm. Even the Thai government’s announcement of soft-loans to airlines, with 2% interest, will do little to help and simply kicks the bankruptcy can down the road a few more months.

Confidence

Many business had to close during the lockdown. Some have re-opened. Others tried to re-open but have since closed again. Some are struggling along as best they can, tweaking their business models to cope. But people, through fear or simply being unable to afford it, are going out less and spending less. People are rediscovering the values of close communities, family or the joys of Netflix and at-home entertainment.

The impacts of recessions across the region will have long-lasting, profound effects on consumer confidence and behaviour. People’s renewed confidence will lag behind any eventual economic recoveries.

Eating Out

There’s been few clear winners in all this Covid mess. But delivery companies are one of them and the local motorcycle delivery services in particular. Grab Food and Food Panda are just two examples of the new way we eat and many restaurants are changing their table service model, and even their take away services, to suit the new normal of food-on-demand. Some restaurants have even closed their doors forever and turned into virtual restaurants, delivering food exclusively through the convenience of app ordering and delivery.

Even as the situation has eased to a large degree in Thailand where a lot of daily living is back to ‘normal’, people simply aren’t going out as much, have pivoted to the delivery services for some shopping and eating, and finding new ways of running their lives, closer to home and with less household outlay.

The Travel Industry

Apart from the obvious lack of international tourism, there’s no doubt we’re simply going to be travelling less in the short to medium term. Many people will be unable to afford the long holidays of the pastand may travel less, or not at all. For business we’ve found efficient ways to keep in contact without meeting face to face. Had anyone ever heard of “zoom’ video conferencing software before Covid?

For the communities that relied on tourism, the changes in their situation has been profound. Businesses are having to reinvent their model to cater for domestic tourism or simply find other ways to diversify their business plan, or just wait out the situation. That wait will eventually kill off a large chunk of local and foreign businesses.

The Economy

Thailand is in recession. So is everywhere else, and the situation, sadly, is likely to get worse as the Covid-era stretches out beyond 2020 and restrictions hold back investment. Some previously good businesses are now out of business. Businesses that were struggling before have been proven unsustainable and closed, probably never to re-open.

Globally, the government stimulus poured into local economies has caused artificial spikes in some stock markets. All this debt will need to be repaid at some stage. In other countries, where the government paid salaries for companies that were forced to close up or sack staff, are finding it hard to ween people off the grants and get them back to work.

In Thailand the economy has been hit hard, particularly in the export , tourism and hospitality industries. The downstream effects of all the staff losing their work, will have an effect on the local economy for many years.

Thailand, reliant on international tourism, has found itself exposed once the borders were closed. As the situation extends way past the ‘few months’ people were expecting, the full impact is starting to hit hard, particularly in places like Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Their reliance on tourism has exposed their economies and left thousands wondering what else they can do to sustain themselves.

Whilst Thailand has recovered quickly from past political unrest, tsunamis and past pandemic threats, this time there will be a much longer path to recovery and will force many businesses to re-evaluate their businesses.

Work from home

Both Thailand’s commercial property market and businesses that have previously had centralised offices, have seen a big shift in behaviour. Driven by the need to work from home during the lockdown in April and May, many businesses magically discovered that they can actually function perfectly well with their employees working from home. The flow-on effects of all this is reducing traffic on the roads, lighter peak traffic loads, flexible hours and, of course, larger businesses wondering why they’ve been renting all this expensive commercial building space. Freelance work is a boom industry as company’s work forces move online instead of in-office.

The red light industries

The reality has certainly hit home for tens of thousands of Thailand’s sex workers. Although not officially recognised in Thailand, prostitution has been a huge local underground (and not-so-underground) industry in the past, creating its own micro-economy involving locals and international tourists.

Without official government acknowledgment, the jobs of Thai sex workers are not recognised and their salaries vanish once the bars and borders close. No rights, no unemployment pay. The number of prostitutes in Thailand is upwards of 100,000, and these workers have had to head home, many back to the northern and northeast provinces. Thailand’s red light districts were locked down for almost 3 months and bars and clubs, and the bar girls and boys, have been struggling ever since.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

More categories of foreigners to be granted entry to Thailand

Maya Taylor

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More categories of foreigners to be granted entry to Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chuttersnap on Unsplash

“…business people on a non-immigrant visa but without a work permit can enter, provided they can show savings of at least 500,000 baht over the previous 6 months.”

The Thai government is expanding the groups of foreigners who can enter Thailand, after a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday. CCSA spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin says athletes competing in tournaments held in the Kingdom will also be given permission to enter.

It’s understood the first group to arrive will be cyclists taking part in a royal marathon cycling event, as well as badminton players coming for a world tour taking place in Thailand in January 2021.

In addition to sports people, Nation Thailand reports that business people on a non-immigrant visa but without a work permit can enter, provided they can show savings of at least 500,000 baht over the previous 6 months.

At yesterday’s meeting, the government also approved the Special Tourist Visa, with the PM asking officials from the Tourism and Foreign Ministries to agree a context and guidelines that would put Thailand’s interests first. Tourists desperate to return to Thailand, and happy to put up with the bureaucracy and cost involved, should contact their nearest Thai Embassy to enquire about the STV.

Additional information can be found HERE, at the website of the Thailand Longstay Company, set up specifically to handle the enquiries relating to the STV.

The Thailand Longstay Company was established in 2001 with the endorsement of the Thai Royal Government to support long stay tourism. As the Tourism Authority of Thailand is a major shareholder of the company, we aim to provide the best services to retired expatriates to promote the tourism industry of the Kingdom of Thailand.

Since the establishment, the company has signed many MOU with many government organisations such as the Immigration Bureau, Tourist Police, and the Airports of Thailand.

Therefore, we specialize in doing a 1-year retirement visa and STV visa for foreigners and other matters related to the immigration procedure of Thailand. We will go through the bureaucratic procedure for our clients. This is the ultimate convenience that we provide.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman says 150 approved foreigners are expected to arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, beginning October 8. Holders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Card, who hail from “low-risk” countries, can now also Thailand. These include Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Dengue fever antibodies might contribute to Thailand’s low Covid-19 count

Caitlin Ashworth

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Dengue fever antibodies might contribute to Thailand’s low Covid-19 count | The Thaiger
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Antibodies from dengue fever might raise immunity against Covid-19, according to study done in Brazil. It suggests a correlation between the mosquito transmitted illness and the coronavirus, citing lower Covid-19 cases in areas with past dengue outbreaks, like south east Asia. Thai doctor Manoon Leechawengwongs says this might be why Thailand has significantly less Covid-19 cases than other countries around the world.

Since the start of the outbreak, many scientists have been confused by south east Asia’s generally low infection rate and posited various theories about some local “immunity”.

Thailand has more than 100,000 dengue patients every year, he says, adding that many locals take the BCG vaccine for tuberculosis to prevent dengue. There have been 3,545 Covid-19 cases in Thailand with 59 deaths and 3,369 recoveries.

Duke University professor Miguel Nicolelis led the study and recently spoke to Reuters reporters about his findings. He says the study first focused on the spread of Covid-19 in Brazil and they came across the correlation between dengue and the coronavirus by accident. The study says areas in Brazil with high numbers of dengue infections had a comparatively low number Covid-19 cases while areas with low numbers of dengue cases had a high number of Covid-19 cases.

“This striking finding raises the intriguing possibility of an immunological cross-reactivity between dengue’s Flavivirus serotypes and SARS-CoV-2 … If proven correct, this hypothesis could mean that dengue infection or immunization with an efficacious and safe dengue vaccine could produce some level of immunological protection (against the coronavirus).”

Miguel adds past studies found that those with dengue antibodies can falsely test positive for Covid-19.

“This indicates that there is an immunological interaction between two viruses that nobody could have expected, because the two viruses are from completely different families.”

The study was posted on MedRxiv, but has not yet been peer reviewed. Manoon warns that Thai people should still abide by coronavirus prevention measures to prevent a possible second wave.

Click HERE to read the study on how dengue fever may have influenced the spread of Covid-19 in Brazil.

SOURCES: Reuters | Nation Thailand|Worldometer

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