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CORONAVIRUS update: Scientists debunk conspiracies, South Korea cases jump to 82

The Thaiger

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CORONAVIRUS update: Scientists debunk conspiracies, South Korea cases jump to 82 | The Thaiger
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“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”

China’s National Health Commission reports there has been 114 new deaths from the coronavirus outbreak bringing the death toll to at least 2,126. 16,433 people have now fully recovered around the world. Around the world, there are 31 new cases in South Korea now which puts them in the top 4 countries with confirmed coronavirus cases. Japan has 84, Singapore also 84 and now South Korea has reached 82 cases.

Thailand’s confirmed cases remain at 35 with no new cases announced since Sunday.

China’s national health commission also reported 394 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, significantly lower than the 1,749 new cases reported the day before. The latest confirmed number of cases is the biggest drop in almost a month.


South Korea reported 31 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the number of people infected in the country to 82. Of the new cases, 23 cases were traced to church services that a 61 year old patient had attended in the central city of Daegu.

Yesterday, the Shincheonji Church posted a statement on its website confirming 10 of its members were infected by the woman who had attended services.


The US public network NPR reports that there are two basic approaches to stopping viral infections. One is to block an enzyme the virus needs either to make copies of itself or infect cells. The other is to make a monoclonal antibody, based on a recovered patient’s immune response.

Researchers around the world are already testing the first idea with an experimental, broad-acting antiviral drug known as Remdesivir, which works by “gumming up a virus’s ability to replicate”.

The drug is currently being tested in China on patients who have coronavirus (Covid-19). A study published just last week found that Remdesivir successfully reduced respiratory symptoms in rhesus monkeys exposed to another coronavirus that causes serious disease, MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome.

In other work, the biopharmaceutical company Sirnaomics, a US pharmaceutical company in Maryland, is hoping to use a gene-silencing technique known as “RNA interference” to turn off key genes in the new coronavirus. But first, the company must identify viral genes to target.

Patrick Lu, Sirnaomics CEO says the testing is ongoing.

“We are currently testing 150 of them using cell-based culture. We are working with groups in the US and China.”


A group of Australians have landed in Darwin airport this morning after being evacuated from the virus-stricken cruise ship in Yokohama Bay in Japan. About 180 nationals and permanent residents had earlier left Japan on a chartered QANTAS jet.

The evacuees had been confined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama for the past two weeks. The ship had a total of 621 confirmed cases of the virus, the most in any single location outside of China.


The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has sternly denounced China’s expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters and is urging Beijing to respect freedom of the press.

“Mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinion. The correct response is to present counter-arguments, not restrict speech.”

The move follows official complaints from Chinese authorities about the headline of an opinion article in the WSJ, which referred to China as the Real Sick Man of Asia* and a decision by Washington earlier this week to treat five government-controlled Chinese news organisations as foreign government functionaries. The move is seen as a likely tit-for-tat move by the Chinese after the US’s open criticism of Chinese media.

* We’ve provided a link to the editorial but there’s a pay-wall if you want to read it


27 prominent public health scientists are pushing back against the steady stream of fake stories and even a debunked scientific paper suggesting a laboratory in Wuhan may be the origin of the outbreak of coronavirus. The scientists, from 9 countries, wrote their statement and were published in The Lancet yesterday.

“The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins.”

The letter does not openly criticise any specific assertions about the origin of the outbreak, but many posts on social media have singled out the Wuhan Institute of Virology for intense scrutiny because it has a laboratory at the highest security level, and its researchers study coronaviruses from bats, including the one that is closest to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Conspiracy theories have included the possibility that the “virus was bioengineered in the lab” or that a lab worker was infected while handling a bat and then transmitted the disease to others. Researchers from the institute have insisted there is no link between the outbreak and their laboratory.

“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”


The coronavirus outbreak that continues to paralyse China’s economy may have a silver lining for the environment. China’s carbon emissions have dropped by least 100 million metric tonnes over the past two weeks, according to a study published by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland.

“That is nearly 6% of global emissions during the same period last year.”

Over the past two weeks, daily power generation at coal power plants was at a four-year low compared with the same period last year, while steel production has sunk to a five-year low, researchers found.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Visa amnesty announced, awaiting PM’s signature

Greeley Pulitzer

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Visa amnesty announced, awaiting PM’s signature | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twitter

With many flights cancelled, entire fleets grounded and hotels ordered closed, thousands of tourists and expats across Thailand are in a state of limbo… unable to leave, not allowed to stay. To make matters worse, social distancing requirements are creating chaos at crowded immigration offices nationwide, and onerous new requirements have been added for visa extensions. The situation has put foreigners and immigration officials at additional risk.

But the Immigration Bureau has announced that the Cabinet has approved a plan to offer automatic visa extensions for foreigners, though it will not come into effect until it has been signed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

An immigration spokesman says a set of new rules, which also includes visa amnesty, has been approved by the Ministry of Interior Affairs and is due to be inked by the PM soon. The measure follows complaints of overcrowding and risk of virus infection at immigration offices across the country.

“It will be signed by the PM soon. Please wait for official announcements and don’t fall for online rumours.”

Details of the new rules emerged yesterday after local blogger Richard Barrow wrote on his social media platforms that the bureau has proposed plans to give every foreign national an automatic 30 day stay extension, citing sources within Immigration.

Richard also noted that the 90-day reporting will be temporarily suspended and those who have obtained permanent resident status will not lose their status if they are not able to return to Thailand within a one year period.

Visa amnesty will be granted to every foreigner, but the post did not elaborate on how it will be enforced.

“This is ready to be implemented straight away, but the Immigration Bureau cannot start until it has been signed by the PM. From what I understand, it’s already in the prime minister’s office. They are optimistic he will sign it very soon.”

“I just got off the phone with another Immigration official. So, it looks like the photos that I tweeted of long queues have caught the attention of the right people.”

But immigration officials said that concerned foreigners shouldn’t rely on online rumours…

“Who is he? He is not the Immigration Bureau. How could he come out to say something like that?We will make official announcements when it becomes effective.”

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya commences lockdown from April 9 onwards

Anukul

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Pattaya commences lockdown from April 9 onwards | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Post / The Pattaya News

Today, Chon Buri’s governor Pakkhathorn Thianchai has approved the Pattaya City’s proposal to lock down the town at 2pm from tomorrow (April 9) for 21 days. It is not a new curfew, but a limitation on people travelling in and out of the city region.

Pattaya City will commence a 24 hour lock down where those who are not residents of Pattaya or not working there will not be allowed access to the area until the situation improves. Multiple checkpoints will be set up during the lockdown to prevent people outside coming in, unless they have specific exemptions. Those who are not exempted in the lockdown announcement, but find it necessary to travel, must seek permission from the district offices first.

Exemptions include ambulances, medical supplies, officials and food supplies.

The District Chief Amnart Charoensri says that many of the confirmed cases in Pattaya are foreigners who were visiting Pattaya or who were living here.

“Most of our cases are imported. We have to control the spread of the Coronavirus. This is a difficult measure but we must stop people, especially foreign tourists, coming into the city at this time.”

“The committee has approved to close Pattaya by setting entrance and exit checkpoints.”

Pattaya commences lockdown from April 9 onwards | News by The Thaiger

 

Under the plan, 5 checkpoints will be set up on roads leading into Pattaya to strictly screen vehicles and people.

Entry to the city will be closed at the Krating Rai flyover. Motorists are required to make a U-turn in this area to the railway line road. People entering the town will be screened at checkpoints on the city’s 5 main access routes…

  1. Soi Chaiyapornvithee.
  2. Motorway Route 2 in front of the highway police office.
  3. Soi Pornprapanimit.
  4. Soi Chayaporn.
  5. Sukhumvit Road in front of Na Jomtien temple.

Foreigners will need to have their original passport at all checkpoints and Thais will need their ID card. Temperature checks will take place at every checkpoint, if anyone tests high they will be required to go to a hospital immediately.

People are also required to wear face masks when in public.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Pattayanews

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

111 new Thai coronavirus cases. 3 more deaths, all foreigners

Greeley Pulitzer

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111 new Thai coronavirus cases. 3 more deaths, all foreigners | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Reuters

Thailand’s National Covid-19 Coronavirus Disease Management Centre has announced 111 new confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus today. Total cases now stand at 2,369 nationwide. 3 foreign men died, pushing the total death toll up to 30. 42 of today’s new cases were all returnees from a religious festival in Indonesia.

The new fatalities include a 48 year old Russian man in Pattaya, a 69 year old Indian man, and a 69 year old American man. Spokesperson Taweesin Visanuyothin says that we have to connect the virus to travellers from overseas.

“I was just happy yesterday… Now we see that the numbers went back up to 3 digits.”

Taweesin was referring to yesterday’s findings, which recorded a dip to only 38 new infections, the lowest in weeks. Of the 111 cases announced today, 69 got the virus from contact with the infected, while 42 were those returning from a religious festival in Indonesia.

Phuket is the province with the highest percentage of active Covid-19 cases, nearly 40 people per 100,000 population, while Bangkok has a rate of 21.6 people per 100,000. Satun province has been added to the list of provinces with Covide-19, mainly due to Thais returning from Indonesia.

A total of 889 people have recovered from the virus in Thailand.

“The solution will be the same: social distancing and wearing masks.”

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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