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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Coronavirus UPDATE: S Korean cases exceed 2,000, cases in 15 European countries

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The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has now killed at least 2,858 people worldwide as the focus of the outbreak now moves away from China and to outbreaks in central South Korea, northern Italy and other parts of Europe.

83,379 people are now infected but, notably (and increasingly), 36,562 people have fully recovered. At least 15 European countries now have confirmed cases of coronavirus, some of which have been traced back to Italy.

The South Korean Centres for Disease Control did not report any new deaths, meaning that the national death toll remains at 13. 2,022 people are now confirmed as infected in South Korea. Among the 256 new cases, 182 are from Daegu, the epicentre of the outbreak in central South Korea – many involved in or connected with a church congregation. A total of 1,314 cases since the beginning of the outbreak have come from Daegu, according to the KCDC.

South Korea has the most confirmed coronavirus cases outside of mainland China.

In Thailand, the Office of Private Education Commission ordered the closure of an international school in Don Mueang district, north of Bangkok’s city area, as a precautionary measure after learning that more than 500 students and teachers had returned from a country hit by the Covid-19 virus.

The secretary-general of the Private Education Commission, Attapon Truektrong, says the school’s management had instructed the group, which includes 60 teachers, to stay at home and self-quarantine following their return on February 23. The Office also asked the school’s management to close the school and switch to online classes.

“A school break is coming, but I’m concerned about international schools that have different break intervals and organise overseas field trips on a regular basis. They are being urged to postpone their trips especially to Covid-19-hit countries.”

He said his office was monitoring the situation at the Phraharuthai Donmuang School in Don Mueang district after an 8 year old pupil tested positive for coronavirus this week. Tests on pupils and teachers who had close contact with the boy have so far been negative.

Meanwhile, a privately-run school in Rayong, a province east of Bangkok, will also close today for “cleaning” as a precautionary measure to allay concerns after it was rumoured that a pupil who returned from a trip to Japan had fallen ill.

The acting director of Anuban Taksin Rayong International School, says the child has tested negative for the virus but is staying at home for self-quarantine. Despite this, the school’s management has decided to suspend classes today for “disinfection”.

South Korea and Israel have asked the Thai government to suspend the travel of workers until the situation returns to normal. Cases in Thailand remain at 40 with 22 fully recovered.

In other coronavirus snippets…

Fears of the spread of coronavirus has forced Saudia Arabia to temporarily suspended entry for Muslims seeking to perform the “umrah” or “haj” – the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Prasarn Sricharoen, a representative from Thailand’s Office of the Chularatchamontri, says the office is checking with the Saudi Arabian Thai embassy for more details about the temporary suspension of visas for visits to Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. He says the office is checking if those who already have visas can travel and that it is waiting for a reply from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry. It is not known if the suspension will affect the annual haj pilgrimage due to start in late July. Moreover,

Meanwhile, the vice president of the Medical Council of Thailand, says people who have travelled to overseas destinations with a high rate of coronavirus infection “must be socially responsible and be truthful to medical personnel to prevent its further spread in Thailand”.

Professor Dr Prasit Wattanapha, made the appeal at a conference in Bangkok yesterday.

“One of the main contributing factors in the outbreak is the lack of knowledge about healthcare and the prevention of communicable diseases among people who are at risk of exposure to the virus. If you travel to areas with a high infection rate such as China, Hong Kong, Macao, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Iran or Italy, you must quarantine yourself at home for 14 days upon returning and avoid crowds.”

“Anyone with a fever, cough or troubled breathing should seek medical treatment immediately and tell the staff if they have travelled abroad recently. It is simply socially responsible to disclose all relevant information, since failure to do so might jeopardise your own safety and that of your family and the public.”

“During the 14 day home quarantine, it’s also advisable to avoid shared rooms like the bedroom and bathroom and stay isolated as much as possible, preferably in properly ventilated room.”

“Stay alert to changes in body temperature (it should be no higher than 37.5 degrees Celsius when checked orally and 37C at the armpit), and any abnormalities in breathing. Symptoms that appear abruptly such as coughing, a runny nose, a sore throat or increased respiration rate are signals that you should immediately contact the nearest hospital or call the Department of Disease Control Hotline at 1422”.

World Health Organisation head, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, says the coronavirus outbreak has reached a “decisive point” and has “pandemic potential”. He noted, when speaking yesterday, that for a second day, more cases have been reported outside than inside China.

“Iran and Italy have become major centres of infection, with people travelling from there spreading the virus further afield.

“Several high-profile Iranian officials have become infected, the latest being Vice-President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar.

“It’s what’s happening in the rest of the world that’s now our greatest concern.”

 

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