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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Coronavirus UPDATE – sharp increase in cases, UK officials battle to contain a new threat

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Coronavirus UPDATE – sharp increase in cases, UK officials battle to contain a new threat | The Thaiger
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There’s been a sharp spike in new cases of coronavirus, principally in the central Chinese province of Hubei. There are now 60,373 world cases, 59,805 in China. 1,369 people have died and over 6,000 recovered.

242 new deaths were recorded yesterday, the deadliest day since the start of the outbreak. So what’s behind the big rise? It’s not actually a spike in the disease, but it reflects a change in the way statistics are collected and reported. Hubei health officials are now using a broader definition to diagnose people – which accounts for the vast majority of new cases. Until yesterday, the number of people diagnosed was stabilising.

Hubei province – which accounts for more than 80% of Chinese infections – now includes “clinically diagnosed cases” in the number of confirmed case statistics. Earlier this week, a number of leading provincial health officials and party leaders were side-lined from their jobs.

Other key Coronavirus news from around the world…

• Economists are already factoring in the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Different banks and research institutions estimate that China’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth for Q1 this year could be less than 4%. Whilst that’s still laudable and would be welcomed by most western economies, it’s a sharp drop from the usual 6% plus annual growth rate. The problem is that China’s economy represents more than 20% of the world economy.

Business research agencies in Japan estimate that Japan’s GDP growth could slide backwards 0.2% if the outbreak lasts more than three months, or by nearly 1% if the outbreak lasts for a whole year.

• Thailand will also be highly affected by China’s (and to a lesser extent, Japan’s) economic slumps due to its close economic ties with China through tourism, business and exports. Some international economic research houses are cutting Thailand’s projected GDP growth for 2020 from 2.7% to 2%, or less. One even forecast the possibility of negative growth for the south east Asian Kingdom.

• Several international cases of the coronavirus, from the UK and South Korea, can be traced back to Singapore. As a result, some countries are now advising against travel to the south east Asian business hub. The tiny city-state now faces unique challenges, whilst generally being commended for its management of the crisis.

Changi Airport remains one of the most interconnected hubs in the world. With a flight taking off or arriving every 80 seconds, it’s more connected than JFK in New York or San Francisco in the US, and Dubai in the UAE. Now, dozens of thermal scanners and staff wearing face masks are dotted around the terminals, automatically checking temperature, cough and other symptoms of passengers as they enter and exit Singapore.

• 12 days separate the man’s departure from Singapore after a business conference, and finding out he had been infected with the new coronavirus. When UK citizen Steve Walsh was tested he had no symptoms. But his case has now set in train a series of events leaving UK health officials battling to stop the coronavirus from spreading across the UK.

Complicating the issue, the 53 year old had a four day stopover at a French ski resort on his way back from the Singapore conference. He didn’t know it, but he was spreading the virus as he went.
By the time he alerted the British health system, the NHS, after being contacted by Singaporean authorities about the spread of coronavirus at that conference, he had unwittingly passed it on to 11 other UK citizens at the ski resort. Five of them were already back in the UK, two were GPs.

Between the six people, they had come into contact with hundreds of others around Brighton and East Sussex before being isolated. The situation is fluid as UK health officials continue to track down and test anyone who may have come into contact with the group.

• South China Morning Post reports that the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is the latest sports event to be caught up in the city’s battle against the virus outbreak and will likely be moved back to October. This year’s 45th edition of the rugby tournament, was scheduled to take place at Hong Kong Stadium from April 3 – 5. Earlier organisers said the event was “all systems go” despite the battle against the virus, but have had to shelve the World Rugby Sevens World Series stop for at least six months.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

19 new Covid-19 cases detected in quarantine, 2 apparent reinfections

Caitlin Ashworth

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19 new Covid-19 cases detected in quarantine, 2 apparent reinfections | The Thaiger

19 new Covid-19 cases were detected in quarantine with 2 apparent reinfections, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is raised to 3,998 with 3,803 recoveries and 60 deaths. 135 people are currently receiving medical treatment for the coronavirus.

  • A 20 year old Thai woman travelling from Switzerland tested positive for Covid-19. She arrived on November 22 and tested positive 5 days later at a quarantine hotel in Bangkok. She was first infected with the coronavirus on November 11.
  • A 20 year old Thai man travelling from the United States tested positive for Covid-19. He arrived on November 22 and tested positive 5 days later. He was first infected with the coronavirus on November 4.
  • A 35 year old Thai man travelling from India with a layover in the United Arab Emirates tested positive for Covid-19. He arrived on November 15 and tested positive 8 days later while at a quarantine hotel in Bangkok.
  • A 39 year old Thai woman travelling from Italy with a layover in Qatar tested positive for Covid-19. She arrived on November 21 and tested positive a week later at a state quarantine facility in Chon Buri.
  • 2 Thai women, ages 55 and 42, travelling from Germany tested positive for Covid-19. They both tested positive on November 26 after checking into quarantine facilities in Bangkok and Samut Prakan.
  • 2 Thai women, ages 18 and 30, travelling from Switzerland tested positive for Covid-19. They arrived on November 22 and tested positive 5 days later while at an alternative state quarantine hotel in Bangkok.
  • 4 people travelling from Japan, a 57 year old Japanese man and 3 Thai women ages 21, 25 and 27, tested positive for Covid-19. They arrived on November 22. The women checked into a quarantine hotel in Chon Buri and the man checked into a quarantine hotel in Bangkok. They tested positive on November 27 and 28.
  • A 69 year old French man arrived in Bangkok on November 23 and tested positive for the coronavirus 3 days later at a quarantine hotel.
  • An 18 year old Thai student travelling from the United Kingdom tested positive for Covid-19. He arrived on November 23 and tested positive 5 days later while at a quarantine hotel in Chon Buri.
  • A 33 year old Thai national and 31 year old Russian man travelling from Russia tested positive for Covid-19. They arrived on November 23 and tested positive 4 and 5 days.
  • A 60 year old Thai woman travelling from Denmark tested positive for Covid-19. She arrived on November 23 and tested positive 5 days later while at a quarantine hotel in Chon Buri.
  • A 39 year old medical tourist travelling from Oman tested positive for Covid-19. He arrived on November 26 and tested positive upon checking into an alternative hospital quarantine in Chon Buri.
  • A 38 year old Thai woman travelling from the Netherlands tested positive for Covid-19 at a screening checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi Airport on November 28.
19 new Covid-19 cases detected in quarantine, 2 apparent reinfections | News by The Thaiger

Daily new Covid-19 cases in Thailand as of November 29, according to Worldometers.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

2 more cases identified in the northern Thailand Covid-19 mini outbreak

The Thaiger

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2 more cases identified in the northern Thailand Covid-19 mini outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Border crossing at Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand

2 more people have been confirmed as infected with Covid-19in the current mini-outbreak in Northern Thailand. In this case both women had crossed the Thai/Myanmar border and worked at the same bar in Myanmar as the original patient, feared to be a potential super-spreader. The 29 year old is now being treated at a hospital in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Rai public health officials report that the women, aged 23 and 26, illegally crossed the Burmese border at Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai, from Tachileik, a border town on the Burmese side of the border, last Thursday night.

All 3 went to work in Tachileik last month, but returned to Thailand after Burmese health authorities imposed a curfew from midnight to 4am. There has been between 1,300 and 1,700 cases announced each day over the past week in Myanmar.

2 more cases identified in the northern Thailand Covid-19 mini outbreak | News by The Thaiger

Thai public health officials say the new cases in Chiang Rai didn’t visit other public places, but stayed in a local hotel and ordered in food on delivery apps.

“We are less worried about the situation in Chiang Rai because they did not go out,” he said.

One of Patient Zero’s friends, the 26 year old, decided to get tested on Saturday after the news of her friend’s positive test result. Authorities then ordered her 23 year old friend to have a test as well. Both tested positive to Covid-19. Another 4 people have since been identified as “high risk” and are all being tested today. When added to the food delivery and hotel staff, the amount of people considered “at risk” could be up to 30.

Meanwhile, the Pattaya Mail is reporting that 2 of the women were arrested in Mae Sai and another 2 were arrested on a bus headed to Pattaya, via Bangkok.

Authorities say they will ramp up the border patrols but expect to see more infections coming from the original case in the next few days. Thailand’s border with Myanmar is more than 2,000 kilometres long, mostly inaccessible mountainous or forest terrain.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

2 more cases identified in the northern Thailand Covid-19 mini outbreak | News by The Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

An international Digital Travel Pass could be the magic bullet to restart global tourism

The Thaiger

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An international Digital Travel Pass could be the magic bullet to restart global tourism | The Thaiger

A new international Travel Pass, a sort of digital health certificate, may be the way forward for countries to re-open their borders and international airlines to get their planes back into the air. The International Air Transport Association says the ‘digital’ certificate will support the safe reopening of borders.

As Covid-19 testing and the results becomes more reliable and nuanced, Governments are looking to testing as a means of limiting most of risks of Covid-19 when reopening their borders. The hope is that the new Travel Pass will replace the quarantine regime imposed by many countries and the hopes that a vaccine alone will solve the problems…

“IATA is calling for systematic Covid-19 testing of all international travelers and the information flow infrastructure needed to enable this must support:

  • Governments with the means to verify the authenticity of tests and the identity of those presenting the test certificates.
  • Airlines with the ability to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel.
  • Laboratories with the means to issue digital certificates to passengers that will be recognised by governments, and;
  • Travellers with accurate information on test requirements, where they can get tested or vaccinated, and the means to securely convey test information to airlines and border authorities.”

IATA is calling for systematic Covid-19 testing of all international travellers. The concept was unveiled at at IATA’s 76th Annual General Meeting on November 24, which called on governments to reopen borders to travel. Of all the industries affected by lockdowns and the slowdown of economies, the airline and travel industry have been hardest hit.

IATA says that deep losses will continue into 2021, even though the situation is expected to improve over the coming months.

A net loss of US$118.5 billion is expected for 2020, while a net loss of US$38.7 billion is expected in 2021.

Improvements are expected in the second half of 2021 after a difficult first half. Aggressive cost-cutting may combine with increased demand during 2021 to see the industry turn cash-positive in the fourth quarter of 2021, which is earlier than previously forecast, according to the IATA.

“Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures. The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with travellers’ identities in compliance with border control requirements. That’s the job of the IATA Travel Pass.”

Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, says that the main priority is to get people traveling again safely.

“In the immediate term that means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements. And that will eventually develop into a vaccine program. The IATA Travel Pass is a solution for both. And we have built it using a modular approach based on open source standards to facilitate interoperability. It can be used in combination with other providers or as a standalone end-to-end solution. The most important thing is that it is responsive to industry’s needs while enabling a competitive market.”

The IATA and International Airlines Group have been collaborating in the project and will arrange a trial to demonstrate that this pass, combined with Covid-19 testing, can reopen international travel and replace quarantines, which they say “essentially kill demand for air travel”.

The first cross-border IATA Travel Pass pilot is scheduled for later this year and the launch slated for quarter one 2021.

SOURCES: Reuters | IATA

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