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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Singapore hit by a second wave of coronavirus cases

The Thaiger

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Singapore hit by a second wave of coronavirus cases | The Thaiger
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Singapore was a paragon of coronavirus containment. Covid-19 was under control in the island state. Case number were flattening out. But the virus has made a resurgent return with the previous ‘flattening’ of new cases now spiking.

As Italy, Spain, the UK and US founder under a seemingly relentless pandemic, despite lockdowns and best intentions, several Asian nations stand out as sources of hope.

Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, even Thailand, have had a relatively good record at containing wildfire spread of the virus. It appears that these countries heeded hard lessons from the 2002/2003 SARS virus outbreak. In most cases they responded relatively swiftly and appear to be better stocked in PPE and essential mediations.

Singapore won international recognition for establishing “best practice” in community pandemic control in mid February when the virus was still in its early phases outside of China’s borders.

But now the number of Covid-19 cases are on the rise again. Since April 1 cases in Singapore have increased 325%. Today they stand at 3,252 cases, 2,200 of the new cases in the past 2 weeks.

Singapore hit by a second wave of coronavirus cases | News by The Thaiger

Whilst the first wave of cases appears to have been mostly among returning travellers, the virus is now beginning to break through well planned social-distancing protocols, contact tracing and medical defences.

Singapore’s officials say that with airlines, trains and cruise ships now sitting idle, there were hopes that the virus was being contained. But whilst they basked in the glory of their early success, Covid-19 was quietly spreading among the island’s communities.

Now, its relentless exponential growth is raising fears of a second, bigger wave of new cases spread almost entirely within the island community.

Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong lamented that Singapore had kept the outbreak under control.

“But looking at the trend, I am worried that unless we take further steps things will gradually get worse, or another big cluster may push things over the edge.”

In the first wave of cases, most of Singapore’s arrived from overseas. But, this time people are catching the disease locally with few links to other victims. But Singaporean authorities have traced much of the new surge to three new ‘clusters’ of infection.

Two are in residential dormitories. The third is based around construction site. But contact tracing is yet to determine where many of the the new cases came in contact with Covid-19.

Residents are being told to stay at home and not to mix with people outside their own households. Going outside is limited to buying groceries or takeaway food, or socially-distant exercise in parks only.

Schools and universities will also now be shut down, as will non-essential businesses.

And the city will stop discouraging its citizens from wearing masks.

Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan have all tightened their social distancing regulations in the past week. New immigration controls are being enforced. Returning citizens are being quarantined for 14 days, and those suspected of having been exposed are being tracked via smartphone apps.

It’s all an attempt to choke a second wave of Covid-19 infections before it can overwhelm their healthcare systems. Japan initially seemed to be on top of the pandemic. It has now declared a state of emergency.

SOURCE: NZherald.co.nz

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Thailand

Poll shows majority of Thais still worry about coronavirus

Jack Burton

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Poll shows majority of Thais still worry about coronavirus | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand Medical News

Although there have been no locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in Thailand for 41 days, a majority of locals are still worried about the spread of the virus, according to the most recent survey by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, better know simply as the Suan Dusit Poll.

The survey was conducted between July 1-4, on 1,109 people throughout the kingdom to gather their opinions on the Covid-19 crisis, now that the government has loosened many restrictions and is allowing people to travel to their home provinces during the July 4-6 long weekend.

When asked if they still worry about the coronavirus spread now that there have been no domestic infections for over a month, 52.9% said they still worry about it but to a lesser degree; around 29.9% said they worry about it as much as before; 12.4% no longer worry about it and 4.7% said they worry more.

The highest number, 39.4%, expect the Covid-19 situation to return to normal by the end of the year; 27.9% said mid-2021; 23.9% by the end of 2021 and 8.7% said it’s was hard to predict, but the situation might improve if a vaccine becomes available.

Asked what they want the government to do after the situation improves, 77.5% said it should remain strictly vigilant against the virus; 71.8% want it to introduce more remedial measures; 69.4% want the government to concentrate on creating jobs; 65.6% want it to help people who have been laid off and 57.3% said they want it to promote domestic tourism.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thai PM expresses concern over “travel bubbles”

Jack Burton

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Thai PM expresses concern over “travel bubbles” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Khaosod English

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed serious concerns about the resumption of international travel under the “travel bubble” scheme, stressing that Thailand must implement a vigorous arrivals screening protocol. The scheme is a proposed limited resumption of international travel to and from countries with a reciprocal agreement.

The Thai government has indicated it has taken a risk-averse stance with future Covid-19 legislation after largely getting the local outbreak under control in late May, early June. There hasn’t been a locally transmitted case in Thailand for 40 days.

Prayut discussed the proposed scheme with the media, saying Thailand must be prepared to allow the resumption of some international travel, with the other countries involved to be carefully considered, and adding that a full agreement must be reached, to ensure compliance with public health measures at the national level.

The PM says the government is concerned about the prospects of international aviation and the country’s external revenue.

During this long weekend, the Ministry of Finance expects up to 10 billion baht in cash flow from domestic economic activities. The PM says Thais are now making more domestic trips, with many hotels reporting a slow return of customers, thanks to the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions. But tourist locations, like Pattaya and Phuket, remain quiet due to their popularity with foreign visitors.

The PM stressed that all businesses “must remain strict with their precautionary measures in order to minimise the risk of a new outbreak of the virus”.

SOURCE: Press Release from Thai National News Bureau

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World

Thailand gets quarantine “red light” from UK, “green light” from EU

Jack Burton

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Thailand gets quarantine “red light” from UK, “green light” from EU | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Evening Standard

Despite reaching 41 days without a locally transmitted case of Covid-19, Thailand is still designated as a “red light” country and Thais arriving in England will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Updated guidelines published on the UK Government website on Friday list 59 countries and territories for which no quarantine will apply, starting July 10. Thailand, earlier included in the list, has now been deleted.

“If you have been to or stopped in a country that is not on the travel corridors exemption list you will have to self-isolate until 14 days have passed since you left that country.”

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will each announce their own separate rules depending on how the new regulations work in England.

Unsurprisingly, the US, Brazil and India are not on the “travel corridors exemption list,” but neither is Thailand, despite earlier reports it would be, and despite its success in eliminating local transmission of the virus. The list will be subject to regular reviews.

Thailand is one of just 15 countries to which the EU has agreed to open its borders. The UK government has put Thailand on a separate list of countries deemed “safe for citizens to visit”, but anyone returning from a trip to Thailand will still have to endure the 14 day quarantine.

Asian nations on the UK exemption list include Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong, who have all brought Covid-19 transmission under control, though there have been some scattered outbreaks of new cases in Japan and Korea.

Under the new rules, a “traffic-light system” – red, orange and green – will be used for different countries depending on their coronavirus contagion levels.

‘Orange’ countries will have reciprocal arrangements in place with England, while green countries, such as New Zealand, are deemed safer than England. Orange countries include France, Italy and Spain, which are among the most popular holiday destinations for Britons.

But the US, with over a quarter of the world’s infections, and Greece, another popular travel destination, will be designated with a red light, requiring 14 days of self-isolation.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Thai Examiner

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