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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Coronavirus UPDATE: WHO fights the ‘infodemic’, recession fears in Europe

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus UPDATE: WHO fights the ‘infodemic’, recession fears in Europe | The Thaiger
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A total number of 67,100 cases of Coronavirus (covid-2019) have now been confirmed worldwide, along with 1,526 deaths reported and 8,193 people recovered. The number of reported full recoveries is now over 5 times the rate of reported deaths, and continues to rise each day.

The infodemic…

On top of the spread of the virus, there has been increasingly dangerous spread of what the World Health Organisation describes as an ‘infodemic’ – fake news and fuzzy maths – where people are posting all sorts of fear-mongering and random claims which are not based on science or the actual situation. Now the WHO is urging tech companies to take tougher action to battle the infodemic about the coronavirus. This week representatives from the WHO travelled to Silicon Valley (the Californian home to many of the big tech HQs) to speak directly to executives about the spread of false information.

The digital business solutions manager for the WHO, Andrew Pattison, says that false information was “spreading faster than the virus”.

“Bogus claims that the virus was spread by eating bat soup or could be cured by garlic have already swept the web.

Books on the disease, hastily cobbled together to cash in on the concerns over the outbreak, have been popping up for sale on e-retailers. But often clicking on these searches for info is met with a barrage of ads offering bogus cures, face masks and ‘vitamin C boosters’ – Vitamin C is already listed as one of the fake cures for coronavirus (or any virus for that matter).

Social media companies have already taken some steps to remove bogus claims and inaccurate fuzzy maths predictions, as well as actively promote accurate information from reputable sources.

“Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and TikTok are already directing users that search for coronavirus on their sites to the WHO or local health organisations.”

In other coronavirus news from around the world today…

Recession fears are again in the European news after Germany’s economy flatlined at the end of 2019. The coronavirus outbreak now threatens to further dampen exports to China. The German economy showed zero growth over the final three months of 2019, setting up Europe’s largest economy for a difficult 2020, at the time it was predicted to begin experiencing positive growth.

The situation makes Europe especially vulnerable to the looming hit from the coronavirus outbreak. For the UK, recently dropped out of the EU, the situation could be even more hazardous as it tries to establish new trading partnerships.

Yesterday it was revealed that 1,716 healthcare workers in mainland China were infected by the coronavirus, six have died. The revelations from China’s National Health Commission . Nearly 90% (87.5%) of those clinicians were from Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital.

A Russian woman, who escaped from a hospital quarantine ward for novel coronavirus, will now face a lawsuit filed by heath authorities for endangering the public. Alla Ilyina travelled back from China on January 31 and was under observation at the Botkin Hospital for Infection Diseases in St. Petersburg.

The woman fled the hospital without permission by “short-circuiting the electronic lock on the door to her ward”, according to St. Petersburg’s chief sanitary physician. Last Thursday was actually the end of Ilyina’s mandatory 14 day quarantine period, and her lawyer says that his client “had the right to return home”.

China remains the ‘hotzone’ for coronavirus as we head into the 2nd half of February, about seven weeks into the outbreak. Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong have the next largest identified case loads in the world. Epidemiologists note that the growth in cases continues to be linear rather than exponential, giving them hope that there will soon be a “flattening” of the graph in cases, and deaths.

“Coronavirus cases are not rising dramatically outside China despite a statistical spike in Hubei province on one day this week”, according to a WHO spokesperson.

“The only exception was on a cruise liner docked in Japan, where 44 new cases were reported, bringing the total there to 218. There was also no major shift in the coronavirus’s pattern of mortality or severity.”

The ‘Diamond Princess’ remains in quarantine in Yokohama Bay, Japan. Not all the 3,700 people on board have been tested yet – people confirmed with the virus are taken to hospitals on land to be treated, while those on board are largely confined to their cabins, according to APF. But Japanese health authorities are now permitting those aged 80 or over, who have tested negative for the coronavirus, to disembark.

“… but they would have to stay in accommodation provided by the government until further notice.”

Coronavirus UPDATE: WHO fights the 'infodemic', recession fears in Europe | News by The ThaigerCoronavirus UPDATE: WHO fights the 'infodemic', recession fears in Europe | News by The Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai activist cries foul on government over US diplomat skirting quarantine

Jack Burton

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Thai activist cries foul on government over US diplomat skirting quarantine | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Activist, lawyer and Thailand's "complainer- in-chief" Srisuwan Janya -Thai PBS World

A transparency campaigner dubbed ” Thailand’s complainer-in-chief ” is accusing the government of negligence for allowing the chief of the US army to enter the country without having to go through a mandatory quarantine upon arriving. Activist Srisuwan Janya says he fears the visit of a delegation from the country with by far the most Covid-19 cases (not to mention deaths) in the world might reintroduce the virus to the Thai population.

“The US army chief and his delegation will come from the country with the world’s highest confirmed cases. We can’t be certain whether they will be free of the virus. The government has taken the promised measures for granted, to exclusively subserve the delegation’s benefit. ” The delegation, led by the US army chief of staff James McConville, will visit Thailand tomorrow and Friday, but the government says they’ll be required to follow strict measures.

Thailand began a partial border reopening on July 1 , in which limited groups of foreigners are permitted to fly into the country with the condition of a mandatory 14 day quarantine at specified facilities. However, exceptions are made for official guests and business people traveling on a special agreement with the government.

Srisuwan says he’ll file a complaint tomorrow against the government’s Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration at the Anti-Corruption Commission. He also criticized Deputy PM and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul for not wearing a mask and failing to observe social distancing measures during the Fourth of July party held by the US embassy in Bangkok on Saturday.

“The government has repeatedly preached to the people to not let their guard down, but it turns out that people within the government have the privilege to be spared from those measures.”

American diplomats also did not wear masks in photos posted online by Anutin. The photos have since been deleted.

Thai activist cries foul on government over US diplomat skirting quarantine | News by The Thaiger

Taweesin Visanuyothin, the spokesman of the CCSD, says the Thai government could not impose a mandatory quarantine for the delegation because it is only a short visit. The US officials will still be required to take virus tests before and after their arrival in Thailand, and to wear masks at all times. Health and security officials will follow them throughout the trip and they won’t be allowed to stray from the itinerary during their 2 day visit.

The American delegation will be the first group of foreigners to pay an official visit to Thailand on a special agreement during the pandemic. The group is scheduled to meet PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and the army chief Apirat Kongsompong on Thursday.

The US ambassador to Thailand, Michael George DeSombre recently paid a courtesy call on Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak at the beginning of his tour of the Kingdom. DeSombre chose not to wear a facemask during the visit.

Thai activist cries foul on government over US diplomat skirting quarantine | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

First post-Covid flight from China lands in Bangkok

Jack Burton

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First post-Covid flight from China lands in Bangkok | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Shine

The first charter flight from China to Thailand has landed in Bangkok, after Thailand partially lifted its 3 month ban on foreign arrivals on July 1. Yesterday, a Spring Airlines flight flew 31 Thai nationals and 21 members of a Chinese company in Thailand from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International airport.

All foreigners, except those with work permits, had been barred from entering Thailand since March. After more than 5 weeks with no locally transmitted cases of Covid-19, Thailand is again allowing entry to limited groups of foreigners.

Business travellers, diplomats, and government officials staying for less than 14 days are considered “fast-track travellers” who will be swab tested for Covid-19 when they arrive to ensure they are infection-free before entering. The so-called “medical tourists” are expected to be allowed in later this month.

Business Traveller reports that the following categories of travellers are now, or will soon be allowed into the country…

  • Thai nationals
  • Individuals who were invited by the PM or authorities responsible for the emergency
  • The spouses, parents, or children of a Thai national
  • Foreigners with residency rights in Thailand
  • Foreign spouses and children of work permit holders
  • Individuals carrying necessary goods, who must leave the country immediately after their work is done
  • Drivers and staff of vehicles that have to carry out necessary or important missions in Thailand and have a clear schedule for leaving
  • International students and their guardians
  • Foreigners and their caregivers seeking non-Covid-19 medical treatment in Thailand
  • The staff of embassies, consulates, international organisations or representatives of foreign governments who have to carry out their mission in Thailand as allowed by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, as well as their spouses, parents, and children
  • Foreigners who are allowed to enter Thailand as per special arrangements

According to the Bangkok Post, Suvarnabhumi airport has unveiled rapid coronavirus tests that are offered for overseas arrivals and being evaluated as another solution to limiting another outbreak in the Kingdom.

SOURCES: Shine | Business Traveler | Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Trump announces withdrawal from WHO over China claims

Jack Burton

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Trump announces withdrawal from WHO over China claims | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Al Jazeera

The UN has announced that the US is leaving the World Health Organisation effective July 6, 2021, after official notice from US President Donald Trump, who has been sharply critical of the agency’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. He had accused the WHO of being “a puppet of China”. The WHO has denied assertions by President Trump that it promoted Chinese “disinformation” about the virus.

Trump announced the decision over a month ago, and by law, must give a year’s notice of withdrawal from the Geneva-based body as well as pay all Washington’s dues under a 1948 joint resolution of the US Congress. The US currently owes more than US$200 million in assessed contributions, according to the WHO website. After more than 70 years of membership, and as the organisation’s main sponsor, the US is quitting the WHO amid rising tensions with China over the coronavirus pandemic. The virus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s official withdrawal “an act of true senselessness as WHO coordinates the global fight against Covid-19.”

“With millions of lives at risk, the President is crippling the international effort to defeat the virus.”

The number of cases worldwide is rapidly approaching 12 million, with more than 546,000 known deaths worldwide, with about 25% of both cases and deaths in the US. Trump’s decision could be overturned if he is defeated by his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the November general election.

Trump stopped funding for the 194-member organisation in April, then in a May letter gave the WHO 30 days to commit to reforms. Less than 2 weeks later he announced the United States would leave the organization.

Vice President Mike Pence, was asked in a Fox News Channel interview, whether it was the right time to break with the WHO.

“It’s absolutely the right time.”

“The World Health Organisation let the world down… There have to be consequences to this.”

The WHO is an independent international body that works with the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the WHO is “absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19.”

Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has quit the UN Human Rights Council, the UN cultural agency, a global accord to tackle climate change and the Iran nuclear deal. He has also cut funding for the UN population fund and the UN agency that provides aid for Palestinian refugees.

SOURCE: Reuters

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