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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Study predicts Coronavirus will grow exponentially; Philippines, NZ enact travel bans

Jack Burton

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Study predicts Coronavirus will grow exponentially; Philippines, NZ enact travel bans | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand has not imposed entry ban on travellers from China - Vorawit Pumpuang, Chiang Rai Times
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While the list of countries banning entry to travellers from China is growing, Thailand continues to resist. The Philippines yesterday became the latest country to block entry to travellers, including those from Hong Kong and Macau, after a Chinese man died in Manila of the Novel Coronavirus, the first death outside of China from the pneumonia-like illness.

Philippine President Duterte yesterday announced a ban on non-citizens traveling from, or through, China, regardless of nationality, on the same day New Zealand announced similar restrictions.

The decisions, both from countries which rely heavily on tourism from China, come as the number of Coronavirus cases continues to skyrocket. The number of confirmed cases rose by more than 1000 over the weekend alone, mainly in China, despite severe travel restrictions placed on some 50 million people in Hubei province.

The number of infections in China approaches 20,000, according to the latest figures from that country’s National Health Commission, while fatalities have risen to 362, although some reports suggest the real number could be much higher.

The virus has been detected in some 20 other countries, from the United States and France to Thailand and Australia.

Many of them have taken action to stop the spread of the virus by blocking entry to Chinese nationals or to people who have recently traveled from or through China. In addition to the Philippines and New Zealand, other countries imposing travel restrictions include the United States, Australia, Israel and Singapore, while Japan and South Korea have imposed looser restrictions which apply to people from Hubei only.

New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern announced that from today, the country will deny entry to foreign travelers arriving from China and order returning New Zealanders to isolate themselves for 14 days.

“We have been advised by health officials that while there are still a range of unknowns in the way the virus is being transmitted, we should take a precautionary approach and temporarily stop travel into New Zealand from mainland China, and of people who have recently been in China.”

In Manila, President Rodrigo Duterte expanded the Philippines’ travel restrictions from those traveling from Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, to the rest of mainland China, including its special administrative regions, Macau and Hong Kong.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, a close aide to Duterte, said in an interview yesterday,”I wish to emphasise that we are not singling out Chinese nationals. The measure covers all travelers from China to the Philippines regardless of nationality. A statement from the Philippines’ health secretary said “I would like to emphasise that this is an imported case with no evidence of local transmission.”

On Saturday The Lancet published a new study by University of Hong Kong scientists claiming the outbreak could be much worse than it appears and could get dramatically worse over the next week or two.

They found that as many as 75,815 people in Wuhan could have been infected with the Coronavirus by January 25, based on an assumption that each infected person might have passed the virus onto 2.68 others. The study also said that epidemic is doubling every 6.4 days.

If the virus were spreading at a similar level around China, “we inferred that epidemics are already growing exponentially in multiple major cities of China with a lag time behind the Wuhan outbreak of about 1-2 weeks.”

Health officials urged good personal hygiene, especially washing hands well and often.

“When mildly ill patients are isolated in their homes, they and their family members should pay special attention to hygiene, and they should avoid sharing bathrooms with family members as much as possible,” according to the China News Network.

SOURCES: The Washington Post | Financial Times

 

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

2 returnees in quarantine catch Covid-19 a second time

Caitlin Ashworth

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2 returnees in quarantine catch Covid-19 a second time | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS

Health officials say 2 people in state quarantine tested positive for Covid-19, apparently catching the virus for a second time. A 42 year old Thai man recently tested positive for Covid-19 while in Chon Buri state quarantine after returning from Singapore. He first caught the virus a few months ago while in Singapore. He didn’t need hospital treatment and quarantined until he was declared clear of the virus on June 11.

In another apparent reinfection, a 58 year old Thai man tested positive for Covid-19 after returning home from Kuwait. Health officials say the man first came in contact with the virus in Kuwait. He was hospitalised and recovered before coming back to Thailand.

Thailand currently has 3,519 confirmed coronavirus cases with 59 reported deaths and 3,360 recoveries. The majority of recent cases have been detected in the mandatory 14 day quarantine for those entering the country.

Health officials are still investigating apparent local transmissions. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a reported local transmission. Health officials say he tested positive for the G-strain of the virus which is more infectious, but less severe. They say the G-strain is typically detected in state quarantine from people returning to Thailand rather than in local cases.

In another apparent local transmission, a Uzbek football player for the Biriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He tested negative for the virus multiple times in quarantine after arriving to Thailand from Uzbekistan. He was released from quarantine and later tested positive for the virus. Some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.

2 returnees in quarantine catch Covid-19 a second time | News by The Thaiger

Total cases in Thailand, according to worldometer.

2 returnees in quarantine catch Covid-19 a second time | News by The Thaiger

Daily cases in Thailand, according to worldometer.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid task force calls for extension to Thailand’s emergency decree

Maya Taylor

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Covid task force calls for extension to Thailand’s emergency decree | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Thailand’s Covid-19 task force is advising the government to extend the country’s state of emergency by a further month… again. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration plans to discuss the matter next Tuesday and put it to Cabinet for consideration on Wednesday.

The state of emergency, or emergency decree, which has been extended several times since its introduction in March, is due to expire at the end of this month. It has been extended, on a month by month basis, many times this year since it was introduced to short-circuit the process of implementation of Covid-19 preventative measures. However, the CCSA says an extension is vital to ensure various government agencies can work speedily to combat any threat from Covid-19, particularly as neighbouring countries experience a spike in infections.

Thailand has already taken steps to seal the porous border with Myanmar after a surge in cases means that country is now recording over 500 new infections a day.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Quarantine could be reduced to 7 days from November, if border re-opening succeeds

Maya Taylor

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Quarantine could be reduced to 7 days from November, if border re-opening succeeds | The Thaiger
Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister says the mandatory quarantine period for those arriving from overseas could be reduced to 7 days if there is no spike in Covid-19 infections after the border re-opens to limited arrivals from October. For the minister’s part, the 7 day quarantine is merely speculation at this stage.

Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says more details on the planned Special Tourist Visa will be made available following a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The STV is expected to grant entry to long-stay arrivals from October 1. Visitors can then extend their stay by 90 days twice, meaning a stay of nearly 9 months in total will be possible. Each extension will cost 2,000 baht, under the current STV proposal.

The government is currently being extremely cautious with its plans to re-open the borders to international arrivals. However, in a Bangkok Post report today, Phiphat says that if the first 2 groups of arrivals, 300 foreign tourists in total, fulfil the 14 day quarantine period without testing positive for the virus, it may be possible to increase the number of visitors granted entry to the Kingdom. And reduce the length of the mandatory quarantine.

“Only 300 tourists per week will not be enough to fill up the whole supply chain and help operators (not even close!). However, the figure has to comply with the capacity of the healthcare workforce from the Public Health Ministry to prepare swab tests.”

It’s understood the Tourism Ministry has been in talks with private hospitals about supplying additional manpower to facilitate the testing being carried out at airports. Another option is to test arrivals at quarantine facilities, in order to avoid holdups at airport arrival terminals. Currently, the Phuket Provincial Health Office has the ability to conduct 1,000 tests a day.

Should the gradual re-opening in October pass without a significant spike in Covid-19 cases, Phiphat says the government may consider halving the 14 day quarantine period from mid-November. Visitors will still be required to be tested prior to arrival, several times while in quarantine, and again before being released.

“In the event there are 5 positive cases from 300 tourists, the plan to welcome foreigners has to move forward anyway. But we will set up new alternative plans to cope with the situation.”

A reduction in the quarantine period may succeed in attracting more visitors, particularly given the high cost of staying at certain alternative state quarantine facilities, which tourists must foot the bill for themselves. An increase in foreign arrivals is seen as essential to the recovery of the tourism sector in areas currently struggling to survive since the border shutdown 6 months ago.

The Tourism Council of Thailand has visited places such as Phuket, Chiang Mai, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Udon Thani, and Rayong, to talk to local business owners. In presenting its findings to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, TCT president, Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, says the government must find a solution to help the tourism sector.

The Tourism Council of Thailand predicts that once the global Covid situation is brought under control, foreign arrivals to Thailand should reach the 60 million mark and contribute 25% of the country’s GDP by 2023. The prediction of 60 million tourists per year would be a more than 50% increase on 2019’s published arrival numbers, optimistic at best, and against the trend of international travel consultants that say the world’s travel industry could take up to a decade to recover to pre-covid numbers.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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