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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Phuket announces 4 new cases, 5 hotels allowed to remain open

The Thaiger

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UPDATE: Phuket announces 4 new cases, 5 hotels allowed to remain open | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Tide Beachfront Hotel
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New cases announced for Phuket this morning. There are now 123 cases around the island, 4 new patients announced today. 98 people are still awaiting their test results.

(5 hotels allowed to remain open – below)

Patong was locked down on Saturday, with checkpoints at all entry points, restricting travel in and out of the seaside city, except for essential services and travel. People are being urged to stay indoors and health inspectors are moving door-to-door to check on people’s health and welfare. This morning there were also similar lockdowns imposed on Rawai and Karon municipalities to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Also a declaration from the Phuket Governor pertinent to Patong residents listed below.

Today’s cases…

Case 120: Thai woman, no age provided. She works in Patong and had a history of visiting Bangla Road. Lives in Patong and started too fell sick on March 28. High risk people is 2.

Case 121: 28 year old Thai man. He works at the Phuket International Airport. He has close contact with Case 90. They live in the same house in Cherng Talay.He felt sick on April 2. 22 people at high risk.

Case 122: 57 ear old Thai man. Restaurant owner in Patong Beach. Husband of Case 92. They live in the same house in Kathu. He fell sick on April 3. No knowledge of high risk contacts as of this time.

Case 123: 17 year old Thai woman. High School student. The daughter of case 103. Live in the same house in Wichit. Fell sick on March 30. 9 people at high risk.

Meanwhile, Phuket’s Governor says five hotels on the island may remain open to provide a place to stay for any visitors stranded on the island and in need of accommodation (rates below).

Under a previous order, the Governor said any hotels with guests may remain open until the last guest checks out, but that no hotels were allowed to receive any new guests.

“Due to the order to close hotels, this resulted in some hotels not complying with the prescribed measures by informing tourists to stay before the order came into force, leaving tourists without accommodation and unable to return to their homes.”

The five hotels that can take in new guests are…

  • The Dara Hotel, over the road from Central Festival: Room rate 1,000 baht (breakfast included)
  • The Throne on Koh Siray: Room rate 1,000 baht (breakfast included)
  • The Tide Beachfront Hotel on Koh Siray: Room rate 1,000 baht (breakfast included).
  • The Patong Bay Inn: Room rate 650 baht (breakfast included)
  • The NaiYang Beach Hotel: Room rate 650 baht per person (including three meals a day). Room tate for 2 people 800 baht (including three meals each a day).

UPDATE: Phuket announces 4 new cases, 5 hotels allowed to remain open | News by The Thaiger

 

UPDATE: Phuket announces 4 new cases, 5 hotels allowed to remain open | News by The ThaigerUPDATE: Phuket announces 4 new cases, 5 hotels allowed to remain open | News by The Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

No date for resumption of international arrivals: PM

Jack Burton

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No date for resumption of international arrivals: PM | The Thaiger
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In an apparent effort to quell rumours and undue optimism, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is downplaying the notion that international tourists will be allowed to return to Thailand in July. The government had set a tentative deadline of 1 July for lifting all restrictions put in place under the Emergency Decree to combat the spread of Covid-19. Last week it was reported the lifting of restrictions would mean that international arrivals would resume from July 1.

But yesterday the Thai PM said Thailand still has a long way to go in its fight against the virus before international tourists can be allowed to return. He added that the issue hasn’t yet been even discussed by the Cabinet, and that only tourists from certain countries may be allowed to visit Thailand, namely those where the outbreak is deemed to be under control.

When tourists are eventually allowed back in, he said, they’ll face “a number of restrictions” which he didn’t specify. This will include so called “travel bubbles,” using bilateral agreements with individual governments to help limit any further outbreak or second wave of infections.

The idea is similar to those enacted elsewhere as countries try to safely kickstart their tourism sectors.

In May, a “travel corridor” allowed people to travel between Seoul and 10 regions in China, including Shanghai, and in Europe, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania established their own travel bubble on May 15.

Australia and New Zealand have discussed plans to resume travel between the 2 countries, potentially as early as September.

The news comes as Tourism Authority of Thailand’s governor said last week he doesn’t expect international tourists to return to Thailand until later in the year.

“It is still dependent on the outbreak situation, but I think at the earliest, we may see the return of tourists in the fourth quarter of this year.”

If and when foreign tourists can return to Thailand, there will likely be restrictions in place to determine where they can visit. The resumption of any form of tourism will also rely heavily on airlines, most of which are struggling with huge financial losses and grappling with restarting flights in a very new international travel paradigm.

The PM has said he is in no rush to open up the borders, reminding reporters that all the new infections are now coming from repatriating Thais.

“We are not going to open all at once. We are still on high alert, we just can’t let our guards down yet. We have to look at the country of origin to see if their situation has truly improved. And lastly, we have to see whether our own business operators are ready to receive tourists under the ‘new normal’.”

A ban on all international travel in and out of Thailand remains in place until at least the end of June. The CAAT have made no comment at this stage about dates for a possible resumption of flights from Thailand’s international airports. Phuket Airport remains closed to all traffic.

SOURCE: thaivisa

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 update: 1 new imported case (June 3)

Jack Burton

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Covid-19 update: 1 new imported case (June 3) | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Khaosod English

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced a single new imported case of Covid-19 at this morning’s daily press briefing. The patient is a 26 year old student who recently returned from Saudi Arabia and was sent directly to a state quarantine facility.

The new case raises Thailand’s total 3,084 since the start of the outbreak in January, with 2,968 recovered and released from hospitals, making the recovery rate 96%. Of these, 95 were found in the North, 111 in the Northeast, 741 in the South, 414 in the Central Region, and 1,723 in Bangkok and Nonthaburi.

This marks the ninth day in a row with no new locally transmitted cases nationwide.

2 more patients were released in the previous 24 hours, leaving only 58 people in hospital for the virus nationwide. There have been 58 deaths since the start of the outbreak.

Globally, the virus has infected more than 6.4 million people leading to over 382,000 deaths.

SOURCES: The Pattaya News | Nation Thailand

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The timeline of a pandemic – the early days of Covid-19

The Thaiger

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The timeline of a pandemic – the early days of Covid-19 | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Science News

The most critical time in the Covid-19 story is early January this year when either confusion, a lack of concrete knowledge or actual withholding of information, caused a delay in public information about the seriousness of a possible new coronavirus.

The timeline doesn’t suit the US or China’s leaderships as they try and re-write the narrative of this critical two week period. But it is clear that by the end of the second week in January there was public knowledge that there was a new virus in town.

The critical questions will be “what did they know” and “when did they know it”.

The World health Organisation publicly applauded China for its swift response and congratulated them on their quick sequencing of the novel coronavirus’ genome throughout January. But China had sat on releasing the genetic map for more than a week after three different Chinese labs had independently decoded the information.

Was it saving face? Was it a malicious attempt to withhold information? Was is “wanting to be sure” before a public announcement about a new virus? The latter appears to represent the situation as the timeline unfolds.

A new report by Associated Press suggests that, rather than colluding with China, as US President Trump keeps insisting, the World Health Organisation was left in the dark as China only offered up only the minimal information required by international law. But the world health agency continued to publicly portray China in the best light, most likely as a strategy to secure more information from the reluctant Chinese health officials.

To this day, World Health Organisation officials genuinely believe Chinese scientists had achieved “a very good result” in detecting and decoding the genome of the new virus, despite the lack of transparency from Chinese officials.

Here’s how the situation unfolded…

Sometime in mid-December 2019, doctors in Wuhan noticed mysterious groups of patients with fevers and breathing problems. The patients weren’t improving with standard flu treatments. So they sent test samples from patients to commercial labs in China for analysis.

December 27, 2019

Vision Medicals had sequenced most of the genome of a novel coronavirus with “striking similarities to SARS”. They shared its data with Wuhan officials and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. This was published in the Chinese finance publication Caixin.

December 30, 2019

Wuhan health officials shared internal memos about the “unusual pneumonia”. Some of these leaked on social media. Shi Zhengli, a scientist specialising in coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, famous for being able to trace the original SARS virus back to bats living in a cave, was told about the new strain of coronavirus. She immediately headed back from a conference in Shanghai to Wuhan to investigate the situation.

December 31, 2019

• This was the first time the World Health Organisation learned about the mysterious pneumonia cases from an open-source internet platform that searches for any mentions on outbreaks anywhere in the world, according to the WHO’s chief of emergencies, Dr. Michael Ryan.

• Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention director Gao Fu sent experts in the field of viruses to Wuhan.

January 1, 2020

World Health Organisation officials requested more information. Members of the WHO have 1-2 days to respond. Chinese officials reported 48 hours that there were 44 cases of the novel coronavirus and no deaths at that stage.

January 2, 2020

• The entire genome of the virus was published by Shi Zhengli, according to a notice posted on the institute’s website.

• Scientists agree that Chinese scientists detected and sequenced the then-unknown pathogen with astonishing speed. WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus would later say China set “a new standard for outbreak response.”

January 3, 2020

China’s National Health Commission issued a confidential order for institutions that had samples of the virus to destroy them or send them to selected institutes for safe storage. The memos, first reported by Caixin Global, would not allow labs to publish news about the virus without the Chinese government’s authorisation.

The same order prevented Shi Zhengli’s laboratory from releasing the genetic sequence or publishing warnings of potential dangers or other information.

January 3, 2020

The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention had independently sequenced the novel coronavirus.

January 5, 2020

The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences had now decoded the sequence, prepared and submitted a report about the novel coronavirus.

By now three independent laboratories had decoded and analysed the new virus but Chinese government health officials said nothing official at this stage or released any public statements.

January 5, 2020

• The World Health Organisation reported on their Twitter account that “investigations were under way into an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases with no deaths in Wuhan, China”. It would share “more details as we have them.”

• The Shanghai Public Clinical Health Centre, led by a highly respected Chinese virologist Zhang Yongzhen, was the latest to sequence the virus. He submitted the sequencing information to the GenBank database, where it sat awaiting review. He also notified the Chinese National Health Commission. He warned that the “new virus was similar to SARS and likely infectious”.

• The World Health Organisation says, based on preliminary information they had obtained from China… “there was no evidence of significant transmission between humans, and did not recommend any specific measures for travellers”.

• The Chinese CDC raised its emergency level to the second highest and technicians started to isolate the virus, prepare testing guidelines and design testing kits. The Chinese CDC didn’t have authority to declare public warnings. The raising of the emergency level was even kept secret from many of their own staff.

From January 6, 2020

• For the next two weeks, the Wuhan officials reported no new infections. Chinese officials censored information from doctors who continued to warn of “suspicious pneumonia-like cases”. But cases were “few” and some CDC researchers didn’t believe at the time that the virus easily spread between humans.

• Researchers found the novel coronavirus (still without an official designation) used a distinct spike protein to bind itself to human cells.

• Thai media reports about a pneumonia-like outbreak in Wuhan, China. Read our report HERE.

“A viral pneumonia outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan is causing concern across the region. At least 59 patients there have been placed under observation so far.”

January 7, 2020

• Yet another team at the Wuhan University had sequenced the novel coronavirus confirming Shi Zhengli’s analysis that the pathogen was a novel coronavirus. But Associated Press reports that the Chinese CDC experts said they “didn’t trust Shi’s findings and needed to verify her data before she could publish”.

• Associated Press allege that the major factor behind the gag from the Chinese CDC order was that they wanted to publish their papers first.

“They wanted to take all the credit,” according to Li Yize, a coronavirus researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.

• As days passed even some of the Chinese CDC’s staff were wondering why it was taking so long for Chinese authorities to officially identify the novel coronavirus.

January 8, 2020

• The Wall Street Journal reports that scientists had identified a novel coronavirus in samples from pneumonia patients in Wuhan. The article pre-empted and embarrassed Chinese officials. Many lab technicians in Wuhan admitted the first they heard about the novel coronavirus was the story in the WSJ.

Dr. Tom Grein, chief of the World Health Organisation’s acute management team says the health agency looks “doubly, incredibly stupid.”

“The fact is we’re two to three weeks into an event. We don’t have a laboratory diagnosis, we don’t have an age, sex or geographic distribution, we don’t have an epidemic curve (a graphic of outbreaks used to indicate the progress of an epidemic).

• Chinese state media, precipitated by the WSJ article, officially announced the discovery of the novel coronavirus.

• Despite the public broadcast of the information, now available to the world, Chinese health authorities still did not release the genome of the new virus. They also continued to withhold diagnostic tests and patient data that would provide information about how infectious the virus was.

• Thai airport officials take a female passenger from Wuhan aside “with a runny nose, sore throat, and high temperature”.

“A first case of ‘New Coronavirus Pneumonia’ has been identified in Thailand, but the Public Health Ministry is assuring the public there is no wider outbreak of the virus. The mystery virus has now been identified by Chinese scientists and was earlier nicknamed as the mystery Wuhan pneumonia.”

• Professor Supaporn Wacharapluesadee from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok found the passenger was infected with a new coronavirus, very similar to what Chinese officials had mentioned. She and her team independently figured out the genetic sequence by January 9 and reported the findings to the Thai government.

• Because Chinese authorities hadn’t officially published any genetic sequences the team were unable to corroborate their findings. They were unable to prove the passenger’s virus was the same one sickening residents in Wuhan.

January 9, 2020

A 61 year old man died in Wuhan, the first known death from the novel coronavirus. The man’s death wasn’t reported until January 11.

• World Health Organisation officials registered their complaints in internal meetings that they were seeking more data, especially the possible rate of infection between humans.

• The WHO’s chief of emergencies, Dr. Michael Ryan forecast the future narrative that would emerge as some world leaders would try and deflect their own inaction over the early days of the pandemic in their nations….

“The danger now is that despite our good intent… especially if something does happen, there will be a lot of finger-pointing at WHO.”

January 11, 2020

• The Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre finally published a sequence on virological.org, a popular website used by researchers to share information about pathogens. This reportedly angered Chinese officials from the CDC. The next day the laboratory was temporarily closed by health authorities.

• Thailand’s Dr. Supaporn compared her sequence with Dr. Zhang from the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre and found it was a 100% match, confirming that the Chinese patient in Thailand had the same virus detected in Wuhan.

• Thailand informed the World Health Organisation of the case.

• The Chinese CDC, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences worked together to publish their sequences, gather patient information, prepare reports and send them to the Chinese National Health Commission for approval, according to documentation obtained by Associated Press.

January 12, 2020

• The three Chinese labs together finally published the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus on GISAID, a platform for scientists to share genomic data. GISAID is based in Germany.

• Around 600 people had been infected in the past week.

January 13, 2020

• The World Health Organisation announced that Thailand had a confirmed case of the virus.

• The next day, according to Associated Press, a confidential teleconference was held where China’s top health official told the country to prepare for a pandemic, describing it as “most severe challenge since SARS in 2003”. Chinese CDC staff across China initiated screenings, isolations, and testing for cases of the novel coronavirus. They found “hundreds”.

• As the Chinese CDC internally declared a level one emergency, Chinese officials still maintained the chance of sustained transmission between humans was low. This led to an official statement from the World Health Organisation that would come back to haunt them…

Maria Van Kerkhove, the American infectious disease epidemiologist, speaking at a press briefing on January 13 said “it is certainly possible there is limited human-to-human transmission.” Just hours later, the WHO tweeted that “preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission”.

The timings of these two statements have been used by critics to slam the WHO for issuing misleading information.

January 20, 2020

• Zhong Nanshan, heading up an expert team and a renowned government infectious diseases doctor, declared publicly that the new virus was spreading between people. He had just returned from Wuhan.

• Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the “timely publication of epidemic information and deepening of international cooperation.”

• The UN health agency dispatched a small team to Wuhan for two days, including Dr. Gauden Galea, the WHO representative in China. Galea recalled that the WHO’s Chinese counterparts were “talking openly and consistently” about human-to-human transmission. Dr. Galea reported to WHO colleagues in Geneva that China’s main request to the WHO was for help “in communicating this to the public, without causing panic.”

January 22, 2020

TheWHO convened a specialist committee to determine whether to declare a global health emergency. After two inconclusive meetings where experts were split, they decided against it.

• Chinese officials order the largest ever ‘lockdown’ in history of an entire population in Wuhan.

Asked by a CNBC reporter whether there were any concerns about the virus spreading to the US, President Trump said: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

January 23, 2020

WHO chief Tedros publicly described the spread of the new coronavirus in China as “limited.”

January 30, 2020

The World Health Organisation finally declares an international health emergency.

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