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“No evidence of Covid-19 losing potency” – WHO experts dismiss claims of Italian scientist

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“No evidence of Covid-19 losing potency” – WHO experts dismiss claims of Italian scientist | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Members of the medical staff in ICU at the San Raffaele Hospital

There is no evidence that the Covid-19 virus has been losing potency. A high profile Italian doctor made the assertions on Sunday. But the World Health Organisation and a range of other noted scientists say there was no evidence to support the assertion.

Professor Alberto Zangrillo, the head of intensive care at the San Raffaele Hospital in Lombardy, Italy, told state television that the new coronavirus “clinically no longer exists”. Lombardy was the region in northern Italy which bore the brunt of Italy’s Covid-19 outbreak. The professor said that new infections appear to be showing “a dramatic change… swab tests show patients have noticeably less of the virus in their bodies”.

Zangrillo, the personal doctor of former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, claims his comments are backed up by a study conducted by Massimo Clementi, a fellow scientist, which Zangrillo says would be published next week.

“We have never said that the virus has changed, we said that the interaction between the virus and the host has definitely changed,” he told Reuters.

“The result was unambiguous: an extremely significant difference between the viral load of patients admitted in March compared to” those admitted last month, Zangrillo said.

But WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, along with several other experts on viruses and infectious diseases, responded by saying Zangrillo’s comments “were not supported by scientific evidence.”

“There is no data to show the new coronavirus is changing significantly, either in its form of transmission or in the severity of the disease it causes.”

The WHO’s Van Kerkhove told reporters that… “in terms of transmissibility, that has not changed, in terms of severity, that has not changed.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 377,000 people and infected more than 6,366,000+ (as of Tuesday morning Thai time).

“Major studies looking at genetic changes in the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 did not support the idea that it was becoming less potent, or weakening in any way.”

The comments from Martin Hibberd, professor of emerging infectious diseases at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“With data from more than 35,000 whole virus genomes, there is currently no evidence that there is any significant difference relating to severity.”

And a scientist at University of Glasgow’s Centre for Virus Research, Oscar MacLean, says suggestions that the virus was weakening were “not supported by anything in the scientific literature and also seem fairly implausible on genetic grounds.”

SOURCE: Reuters | Straits Times

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Quarantine for vaccinated travellers to be reduced to 7 days

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Quarantine for vaccinated travellers to be reduced to 7 days | The Thaiger
Photo via Facebook/อนุทิน ชาญวีรกูล

The mandatory quarantine period for those who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be reduced from 14 days to 7 days, Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirankul said in a press conference. Those who have not been vaccinated, but have a medical certificate declaring that they are Covid-free, will be required to quarantine to 10 days, Anutin said, according to Reuters.

The health minister says vaccinations must be administered within 3 months of travelling to Thailand. Travellers must still show negative Covid-19 test results issued within 72 hours of their departure to Thailand. Those travelling from Africa must still quarantine for 14 days due to concerns about new variants of the coronavirus.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases

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CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases | The Thaiger
Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

71 new Covid-19 cases were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are currently 579 active cases. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 26,441 coronavirus cases in Thailand and 85 deaths.

“The numbers are getting better,” according to deputy spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun, who gives the CCSA report in English. The daily active case count has remained between 500 to 600 cases for the past week, a much lower average than last month when mass testing campaigns were actively rolled out in high risk areas to help trace and contain the virus.

Out of the 71 cases, 41 were detected in hospitals, primarily in Samut Sakhon. 7 cases were detected in active case finding, including 6 in Samut Sakhon and 1 in Pathum Thani. The other 23 cases were detected in quarantine for those travelling to Thailand from overseas.

Recently, 2 beauty pageant contestants tested positive for Covid-19 while in quarantine after arriving in Thailand from overseas. Women from 63 countries travelled to Thailand to participate in a beauty pageant scheduled for later this month. Natapanu praised the health care workers for their effectiveness at detecting the virus at an early stage.

Over the weekend, the CCSA reported 65 new cases yesterday and 64 new cases on Saturday.

CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases | News by The Thaiger

CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases | News by The Thaiger

Daily active Covid-19 cases in Thailand as of 7 March 2021, according to Worldometers.

SOURCE: CCSA

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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai hotels slash prices amid ongoing slump in tourism

Maya Taylor

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Chiang Mai hotels slash prices amid ongoing slump in tourism | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort

Hotels in the northern province of Chiang Mai have been forced to cut their rates by up to 90%, in a desperate bid to attract more domestic tourists. According to a Bangkok Post report, La-Iad Bungsrithong, from the northern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, says with tourists mainly favouring the southern beach destinations this month, hotel operators in the north of the country are preparing for the forthcoming low season.

The resurgence of Covid-19 late last year meant that in December, only 1,000 Chiang Mai hotels, offering between 20,000 and 30,000 rooms, stayed open. This month, occupancy rates have plummeted to less than 3% and are not expected to rise beyond 5% during the Songkran holiday next month.

La-Iad says traditional target markets such as China are currently off-limits due to the Chinese government placing restrictions on citizens travelling out of the country.

“Even though vaccine distribution has started globally, the target markets for Chiang Mai such as China still cannot take outbound trips. Operators have to rely on the domestic market for the whole year.”

She adds that the Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort, of which she is general manager, has cut room rates to 1,500 baht a night, compared to the normal rate of 13,000 baht prior to the pandemic.

Hotels are also being forced to explore new ways of making money, with around 30 hotels – all 4 and 5 star properties – now offering a “drive-thru” food service. La-Iad says hotel operators are also calling on the Chiang Mai office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand to provide visitors to the province with a 500 baht coupon to be redeemed in hotel eateries. She says the authority also needs to do more to promote inter-provincial travel, in particular from the south and north-east of the country.

In 2019, Chiang Mai welcomed 11 million tourists, with 70% of them being Thai. By contrast, there were only 1 million in 2020. This year’s number is expected to be around 25% of the 2019 figure.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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