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Coronavirus Asia

Vietnam flings open the doors, Thailand and Malaysia peek through the curtains

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Vietnam flings open the doors, Thailand and Malaysia peek through the curtains | The Thaiger
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Peeking through the curtains and testing the water, or flinging wide the door and going for it. Or somewhere in between.

Some South east Asian countries are starting to make cautious preparations to lift lockdown and travel restrictions. But this isn’t a competition – each country is having to look at the myriad of local issues as they factor in steps to re-open their economies. And every South east Asian country has different priorities.

Vietnam has already ended the government’s “social distancing measures” this week, except in some districts of the northern capital Hanoi. The Vietnamese health authorities reported no new cases for seven days in a row, giving them the confidence of being the first of the ten nations to reboot their economy.

But compared to the rest of the world the numbers in South east Asia have been tiny. In fact, all added up, South east Asia’s reported cases make up a minuscule 1.3% of the world’s cases (despite widespread belief that the numbers in Indonesia are actually a lot higher than reported). In comparison, the case numbers in the US have burst through the 1 million mark in the past 24 hours, with more than 56,000 deaths. Spain, Italy, France and the UK are also still struggling to contain the coronavirus, all with more than 20,000 deaths.

Singapore, an island state of only 5.6 million people, leads the way in the region with nearly *15,000 cases (mostly migrant workers). Meanwhile the most populous of the South east Asian nations, Indonesia, with a population of 264 million, is in second place with *9,511 reported cases. But Reuters today published a report that there have already been 2,200 deaths in the archipelago, three times the officially of *773 deaths.

The stark difference in the tallies, relative to their populations, has been put down to the quality of the testing regimes in the two countries – none of the region’s epidemiologists believe Indonesia is correctly reporting case numbers. The city-state has struggled to control the epidemic, mainly among migrant workers. Singapore has discovered over 7,000 new cases in the past seven days alone.

* Figures as of 1930 Tuesday, Thai time

Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines imposed levels of restrictions after infections started to climb. In Thailand there was a national nighty curfew, closure of all non-essential shops, rules about the wearing of masks and travel restrictions, keeping Thai’s within the borders of their provinces (and some cases within the boundaries of their suburbs).

Today Thailand has extended it emergency decree, a state of emergency giving their prime minister sweeping powers to make instant decisions. The state of emergency now runs to the end of May despite the number of ne cases slowing to a trickle over the past week.

But preparations for easing restrictions around Thailand are now apparent. The cabinet is considering decreasing the level of intensity and scope of restrictions that affect the normal operation of Thai businesses. Thais look forward to a gradual easing of the draconian restrictions in coming weeks.

But the nation’s most pressing problem will be to figure out how to salvage it’s valuable tourism industry, said to contribute from 15-18% of the country’s total GDP. The tourist magnets, like Phuket and Pattaya, have been devoid of tourists for nearly two months and the shops and bars remain shuttered. Although restrictions may soon be lifted, allowing some semblance of trade, there is unlikely to be any resurgence in Thai tourism until sometime in 2021.

A lot will depend on other countries re-opening their borders, the aviation industry finding a way to sustain scheduled flights and a willingness of international travellers to get back on planes. And will they have the money anyway? And will insurance companies provide insurance for travellers until a viable vaccine is on the market?

Bangkok and Phuket remain the areas in Thailand with the most infections and they will be among the last to have restrictions lifted.

Malaysia and the Philippines have both report fewer cases over the past seven days than in the previous seven days. But Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin has now extended the government’s restrictions on internal travel until at least May 12, the third such extension. Like its northern neighbour, Malaysia is, too, being cautious about opening back up too quickly and risking a second wave of infections.

Last week the Philippines’ President Duterte extended the lockdown in Manila, and other high-risk areas until the middle of May 15.

But as South east Asia’s economies peak through the curtains, glimpsing at creating a new-normal, the world’s fastest growing economies now face their biggest test yet – have they opened up again too early?

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Coronavirus Japan

Tokyo Olympics may cost almost US$2 billion more due to Covid delay

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Tokyo Olympics may cost almost US$2 billion more due to Covid delay | The Thaiger

The Tokyo Olympics may cost almost US$2 billion more than its original budget of US$13 billion, after it has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Olympic organisers say they will decide on the increased budget for the Games after communicating with Japan’s government and Tokyo. The Games were postponed by 1 year after Covid-19 spread worldwide, with its opening date set to July 23, 2021. Of all the events postposed because of Covid-19, the Olympics was the biggest and most complex to postpone.

Such a delay has yielded new costs, from retaining the organising staff, rebooking venues and transportation. Not to mention, the question of if the event can actually proceed safely. But Olympic officials are reaffirming that the Games can, indeed, be held following safety measures.

Such covid safety measures are reportedly another reason why the price of the event has increased, although the new estimated cost doesn’t include such measures. Officials say they are expecting the additional costs to be paid for by the Japanese government. Organisers and officials are reportedly considering a long list of possible virus countermeasures that they hope will make the Games possible, even if a vaccine is not yet available.

A dialed-down, lower-cost Olympics plan was announced in September, with banners, mascots, meals, and athlete welcome ceremonies being scrapped along with fewer free tickets to be offered. A senior official has said that Tokyo Olympics test events will resume in March with a decision on fan attendance to be made in the spring season.

Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee Chief says he is very confident that the Games will have attending fans. However, fan enthusiasm has decreased inside of Japan, with summer polls indicating only 1 in 4 Japanese people wanting the Games to happen, with most wanting them to be postponed or even fully cancelled.

So far, Tokyo has reported just over 40,000 cases of Covid, with Japan reporting 145,000 cases since the pandemic began.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus Singapore

Singaporean woman gives birth to baby with Covid antibodies in system

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Singaporean woman gives birth to baby with Covid antibodies in system | The Thaiger

A Singaporean woman has given birth to a baby with Covid antibodies in its system, giving new clues into whether Covid can be transferred from mother to child. The woman, Celine Ng-Chan, was infected with the virus in March during her pregnancy, and gave birth this month to her Covid-free baby.

“My doctor suspects I have transferred my Covid-19 antibodies to him during my pregnancy.”

The World Health Organisation says it is not yet known whether a pregnant woman with Covid-19 can pass the virus to her foetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery.

Ng-Chan became mildly sick from the virus, but was discharged from the National University Hospital after 2.5 weeks. So far, the World Health Organisation says it is not yet known whether a pregnant woman can pass the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery, but this new finding helps researchers with new information. The active virus has not been found in samples of fluid around the fetus in the womb or in breast milk as of now, with Chinese doctors reporting such detection of antibodies in babies born to women, who have been infected with the virus, has been shown to decline over time.

New York Presbyterian/Columia University Irving Medical Centre has also reported in October, in JAMA Pediatrics, that the transmission of the virus from mothers to babies is rare, further pointing towards the risks being minimal of the possible transmission from mother to baby either in the womb, during delivery, or in breastfeeding.

Meanwhile, a 29 year old female Thai returnee from Myanmar has tested positive for Covid in Chiang Mai, after visiting the hospital with flu-like symptoms. She was the only local case reported, out of 5 other positive tests, with officials saying she is believed to have contracted the virus in Myanmar.

The positive test on November 27, came after she was out and about, with authorities saying 326 people are suspected of coming in contact with the woman. The woman reportedly visited a mall to eat Japanese shabu, watched a movie, visited a karaoke bar, and used public transportation before her positive diagnosis.

SOURCE: NDTV.com

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Coronavirus News & Updates

10 new cases of Covid today in Thailand, all in quarantine

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10 new cases of Covid today in Thailand, all in quarantine | The Thaiger

Thailand has 10 new cases of Covid-19 reported today by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA). The infections were from those arriving from 8 different countries, with all being in quarantine. The new cases bring the total to 3,902 with the death toll remaining at 60. Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, US and India were the countries that the visitors have arrived from, with most having no symptoms upon entering Thailand.

A 55 year old from Germany who was a Dutch businessman tested positive in quarantine after arriving in Bangkok on November 6 without any symptoms.

A 30 year old Thai woman tested positive in quarantine with symptoms after arriving from Sweden on November 12 while a day later a 56 year old Swiss man tested positive after arriving from Switzerland with no symptoms. Another case was a 43 year old Thai masseuse who arrived from the Czech Republic on November 14. That person was also on the same flight as another previously confirmed case.

An engineer from Belgium tested positive after arriving on the same day as the Thai masseuse, and was on the same flight as another confirmed case. The Belgian displayed no symptoms. Again on the same day, a 15 year old Indian student tested positive after arriving in Bangkok. That student was also on a flight with a previously confirmed case.

2 Thai women, who also arrived on November 14 from the Netherlands tested positive. One was a 52 year old housewife with virus symptoms and the other was a 22 year old student with no symptoms. 2 more Thais returned from the US in which both tested positive on the same day as the others, with one displaying symptoms. The other, was a 61 year old retired official.

Globally, the amount of cases rose by 659,511 over the last 24 hours to 57.9 million. The death toll worldwide also rose to 1.37 million. The US remains as the country with the most cases, at 12.27 million, followed by India with just over 9 million. Thailand currently ranks 151st worldwide for the number of cases so far reported.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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