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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Passengers leave Yokohama virus ship, China toll tops 2000

Greeley Pulitzer

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Passengers leave Yokohama virus ship, China toll tops 2000 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: People still in quarantine on the deck of the Diamond Princess in Yokohama yesterday - AFP
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Passengers onboard the Diamond Princess, the coronavirus-wracked cruise ship which has been quarantined in Yokohama’s harbour for two weeks, began disembarking today after testing negative for the disease that has now claimed more than 2,000 lives in China.

The ship proved a fertile breeding ground for the COVID-19 coronavirus, with at least 542 positive cases, the largest cluster of confirmed cases outside of China. There is mounting criticism of Japan’s handling of the quarantine as passengers prepare to return to their home countries.

Disembarkation is expected to take around three days as more test results become available. Anyone who has had contact with an infected passenger will have to undergo 14 more days in quarantine.

In addition, the crew will begin a new quarantine when the last passenger has disembarked.

New figures in China today showed the death toll surging beyond 2,000 with more than 74,000 infected. Hundreds more cases have been reported in two dozen countries.

For about 500 passengers allowed to disembark after testing negative, their difficult 14-day quarantine period is over after their dream cruise became a nightmare of fear and crushing boredom,in many cases confined to small windowless cabins.

“NEGATIVE! Me, son, husband, mom and dad! Thank you Lord for protecting us… So emotional now,” tweeted one passenger, who has been cooped up with her six-year-old son. But not everyone was so lucky.

British passenger David Abel, who became a minor celebrity with his upbeat video messages in the early days of the quarantine, including a cheeky request to the captain for whisky, personified the mood shift aboard.

“It’s all getting to us now and it’s not just me, it’s the other passengers as well. It’s the not-knowing factor that is the real challenge. Mentally, it’s now taking its toll. Right now, it’s very hard to remain focused on anything.”

He later announced he and his wife Sally had tested positive.

China announced today there were 1,749 new infections, the lowest number of new cases this month. All but 56 were in the epicentre of Hubei province.

Michael Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies programme, said the outbreak was “very serious” and could grow, but stressed that outside Hubei, it is “affecting a very, very tiny, tiny proportion of people.”

There have been 900 cases around the world, with five deaths in France, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Several countries appear to have lost patience with the onboard quarantine and have prepared chartered planes to bring back their citizens. In the first such evacuation Monday, more than 300 Americans flew home even though 14 of them had tested positive.

Early Wednesday, South Korea flew six of its nationals plus a Japanese spouse to Seoul. They will be placed in isolation for 14 days, according to the Yonhap news agency. reported.

Britain, Hong Kong and Australia are among other countries that have vowed to repatriate people from the ship but will insist on a further 14-day quarantine on home soil.

SOURCE: AFP

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

All new arrivals to Thailand banned, effective immediately

Greeley Pulitzer

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All new arrivals to Thailand banned, effective immediately | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Asia Times

Effective today, and until at least April 15, Thailand will bar all arrivals due to the increasing number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases.

Thaveesilp Wissanuyothin, spokesman of the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, says that PM Prayut Chan-ocha has ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue a new directive prohibiting any new arrivals.

“The spread of Covid-19 must be stopped. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will give more details on the directive. However, people who already have permission and who need to enter Thailand are exempted, but there will be a strict process via the embassy.”

Thaveesilp says Thais returning from overseas and foreign visitors are partly responsible for the continuing rise in the number of new infections.

“Though the number of travellers from overseas has significantly declined, the PM believes more needs to be done to stem overseas arrivals in order to further flatten the curve.”

He says the PM wants to see stringent measures imposed on overseas arrivals between April 2-15. The Foreign Ministry has been tasked to find out ways to implement the directive from the PM.

Asked whether the government is moving toward imposing curfew to enforce its “stay at home” measure, Thaveesilp said “just wait for what the prime minister will have to say today.”

He says 4 of the 6 Thais who recently returned from Italy tested positive for the virus, with another 50 people who have come into contact with them being quarantined.

As many as 47 of the 132 Thai Muslims in southern Thailand who returned from a religious function outside Kuala Lumpur last month have also tested positive and 4 have died. More than 1,000 people had to be quarantined as a result.

Four executives of the CP Group, Thailand’s largest private company and one of world’s largest conglomerates, returned recently from negotiating the Tesco deal and one of them died after being infected with the virus.

Thaveesilp says these figures only reinforce concerns that the spread of the deadly virus cannot be curbed if people from overseas continue to be allowed in without more stringent screening.

He says the PM told the Foreign Ministry to further tighten restrictions on Thais planning to return from abroad, asking them to postpone their trips until after April 15. This new measure, he said, applies to all Thai citizens abroad, including American Field Service exchange program students who are living in the US with their host families, with the exception for those already issued with permits to return to Thailand.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Thailand hit 1,875 today with 104 new infections confirmed over a 24-hour period, a fifth consecutive drop in the daily number. 3 more deaths were reported.

Source: The Nation | Thai PBS World

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

New Covid-19 test kits produced in Thailand

Anukul

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New Covid-19 test kits produced in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: chiangmainews.co.th

Today the first batch of 20,000 new Covid-19 test kits, developed by a joint effort of the Siam Bioscience and The Department of Medical Science, has been delivered to Government House. Each locally produced test kit costs around 1,500 baht each, while imported ones will cost about 4,500 baht each.

The association of Siam Bioscience and The Department of Medical Science aim to produce 20,000 test kits every week, and once 100,000 kits have been produced, they will be distributed among 100 hospitals nationwide.

Meanwhile, the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation yesterday approved the urgent purchase of 400,000 N95 masks and the same number of personal protection suits from China. A budget of 660 million baht has been earmarked for the purchase. China will send 150,000 by air within this week and will ship 250,000 in the next few weeks.

A similar story where Chulalongkorn University has developed, and currently testing, a new blood test for the Covid-19 virus. The “Baiya Rapid Covid-19” testing strip uses blood drawn from the fingertip and delivers results in 10 to 15 minutes.

SOURCE: The Nation

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News & Updates

National curfew announced. Takes effect tomorrow.

Greeley Pulitzer

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National curfew announced. Takes effect tomorrow. | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Jack

Thailand will announce a nationwide curfew between 10pm – 4am starting tomorrow (Friday) to try to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. The government made the announcement in a statement today.

There will be some exceptions to the new measure, including the transport of medical supplies, movement of people into quarantine, patients and travel of medical personnel, according to the statement presented this afternoon.

“The prime minister will make the announcement this evening on national television around 6 pm”

Thailand has been under a national state of emergency since last week and has closed its borders to foreigners.

SOURCE: Reuters

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