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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Surgical masks no guarantee against coronavirus” – medical experts

Jack Burton

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“Surgical masks no guarantee against coronavirus” – medical experts | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Arabian Post
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The Wuhan Coronavirus is making news around the world and the sight of people wearing face-masks is now becoming common – whether they’re in a high-risk area or not. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has upgraded the global threat level to “high.” Many countries have banned or reduced flights from China and are stepping up screening efforts at their airports. Malaysia is the latest ASEAN member to join the growing number of countries that have imposed a temporary ban on Chinese nationals arriving from Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province. The Philippines has also banned flights from Wuhan, and sent back 500 Chinese tourists who came from the city.

As Asian commuters cover their noses and mouths with paper thin covers, medical experts dispute the usefulness of mass-produced surgical masks to block transmission of the flu-like virus.

“It is not one of the recommended barrier measures” for those who have not been contaminated, according to France’s health minister. A senior researcher at the Osaka Institute of Public Heath told the media that high-quality masks could be effective, referring to more expensive, tight-fitting respirators used to filter fine dust and pollution.

“But as always, there is no 100% guarantee.”

Still, on Bangkok’s streets many people put faith in surgical masks.

“I’m very concerned about the virus,” one citizen told reporters. “Everywhere I go, I also bring alcohol and hand sanitiser to clean my hands and avoid areas with Chinese tourists.”

Others wore heavier duty PM2.5 masks, in a city shrouded for weeks by damaging pollution. One Bangkok chemist said the outbreak has led to the most intense panic-buying of medical items he has seen since the SARS epidemic of 2002-2003.

“All our mask suppliers are out of stock. The masks are made in China and the country itself is out of stock.”

The World Health Organisation is advising regular hand washing with soap, alcohol rubs and avoiding touching one’s face as well as crowded places as effective habits to protect against infection. The advice has not stopped a run on the masks, stockpiling or price hikes, from Cambodia to Tokyo, Hubei to Hong Kong, where queues stretch outside retailers with stocks.

But while Southeast Asian governments are stepping up efforts to prevent the virus from entering their countries, their efforts may be hampered. They may be able to effectively monitor who enters and leaves their respective countries legally, but what about those who slip under the radar?

Increasing border patrols, enhancing screening efforts, blocking people from entering and even sending back Chinese tourists may be effective, but the ASEAN region also has the issue of human trafficking.

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index by human rights group Walk Free, some 25 million people are trapped in modern slavery in the Asia Pacific region, or 62 % of the global total. The US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons reports for 2018 and 2019 paint a grim picture for most ASEAN countries in terms of human trafficking. The coronavirus highlights the deadly consequences that could arise when problems like human trafficking are not dealt with.

SOURCE: The ASEAN Post

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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.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand scores highest for mask-wearing in survey of ASEAN nations

Maya Taylor

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Thailand scores highest for mask-wearing in survey of ASEAN nations | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand Medical News

A survey carried out by internet-based market research firm YouGov reveals that Thais are the most likely to wear face masks and to use hand sanitiser. Khaosod English reports that the survey examined the habits of citizens from 6 ASEAN member-states and found that 95% of Thais always wear a face mask in public.

(It’s currently still law to wear a face-mask in public as part of the emergency decree)

Vietnamese citizens were a close second at 94%, followed by the Philippines (93%), Malaysia (89%), and Indonesia (87%). Singapore came in last with just 66% of people saying they always wear a face mask in public. Those surveyed were chosen based on age, income, education level and gender to ensure a wide representation for each country.

Thailand scores highest for mask-wearing in survey of ASEAN nations | News by The Thaiger

YouGov/Imperial College London

The Covid-19 outbreak has led to more people wearing face masks, particularly in countries where it is now mandatory to do so while in public. While there was a degree of panic-buying of surgical masks in the early days of the pandemic, many Thai fashion brands are now producing their own, along with creative individuals who started making masks to alleviate the initial shortage.

The owner of the I’m Not A Morning Person fashion label, 28 year old Jarauyporn Khamwan started by using leftover material to make satin masks which she sold for 290 baht. She believes masks have the potential to become a fashion accessory, particularly if wearing them remains a permanent requirement.

Overall, the wearing of face masks is far more prevalent in Asian culture, although things are slowly changing in some Western countries as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Across the 6 ASEAN members surveyed, 86% of respondents say they always wear a face mask in public. By contrast, 48% of people in the US do, followed by 44% in France. In the UK, just 15% of respondents say they always wear a face mask when leaving home.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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ASEAN

Cambodia discharges last Covid-19 patient, no new cases in a month

Jack Burton

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Cambodia discharges last Covid-19 patient, no new cases in a month | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AFP

Thailand’s neighbour Cambodia has had no new Covid-19 cases for a month and its last patient has recovered and left hospital, leaving the country with 0 cases. But no easing of restrictions related to the virus, including school closures and border entry checks and quarantines, was mentioned in the statement from the Cambodian Ministry of Health. Cambodia’s last reported new case was on April 12. A total of 14,684 tests have been done since January, according to the ministry.

A 36 year old woman from Cambodia’s northwestern province of Banteay Meanchey was released from the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh, and was presented to the media in a livestream yesterday, thanking the health authorities.

Cambodia reported a total of 122 cases of the virus and no deaths from since the disease emerged in China and began spreading around the world, infecting more than 4.6 million and killing about 311,000 since January.

Cambodia’s Health Minister urged people to stay vigilant and take precautions such as not gathering in large groups.

“We think that most of the cases, generally, are imported, so we must be careful with all checkpoints at the border, at airports, at ports, at land checkpoints.”

“People who travel from abroad must have a certificate confirming that they don’t have COVID-19. Only then would we allow them in, and once they are in, they will be quarantined for another 14 days.”

Cambodia has fared better than most of its neighbours and other ASEAN nations. By comparison, as of today, Singapore has reported 27,635 cases and 22 deaths; Malaysia has reported 6,872 cases and 113 deaths; Indonesia 17,025 cases and 1,089 deaths, the Philippines 12,305 cases and 817 deaths; Thailand 3,025 cases and 56 deaths; Vietnam 318 cases and no deaths, Brunei 141 cases and 1 death, and Laos has reported 19 cases with no deaths.

SOURCE: Reuters | worldometers.info

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Coronavirus pandemic reaches 4 million people infected

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus pandemic reaches 4 million people infected | The Thaiger

Across the world some 4,100,000+ people are now infected with Covid-19. The actual number is much higher but, for lack of testing and diagnosis in some countries, we may never know the exact number. Still the statistics, as varied and unreliable as they may be, still provide some general trends and provide scientists with valuable data.

There has never been a world viral pandemic that has been so numerically tracked and so widely reported.

The US has a total of 1,347,309 confirmed cases of Covid-19, adding around 30,000 new cases every day over the past month. And whilst the ‘curve’ started flattening at the start of April, the rise has been consistent, for the past month. There’s now been over 80,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19 with an average of 2,000 deaths per day, also being consistent during the past month.

Beyond the situation in the US, the countries worst hit by Covid-19 are in Europe – the UK (31,587 deaths), Italy (30,395 deaths), Spain (26,478 deaths) and France (26,310 deaths).

Statistically, the countries with the highest death rates have been San Marino, a microstate in northern Italy, with 1,208 deaths per 1 million population, Belgium (740 deaths per 1M), Spain (566 deaths per 1M), Italy (503 deaths per 1M) and the UK (465 deaths per 1M). The US death rate is 242 deaths per 1M.

In south east Asia both the rates of reported infections and death rates have been relatively low. Across the entire 10 countries of ASEAN, the average infection rate has been much lower than in, for example, some of the worst hit European countries (around 5,000 people infected per 1 million population). Singapore, with its high number of infections compared to its tiny population, is leading the infection rate (3,839 people per 1M), some 18 times higher than the next country, Malaysia (204 people per 1M), and 90 times higher than Thailand.

Singapore’s testing rate has also been the highest in the region with around 30,000 people tested per 1 million people, 4 times higher than Malaysia and 9 times higher than Thailand. The US testing rate is around 27,000 per 1 million people.

Singapore – 22.460 total infections and 20 deaths

(Mostly from a sudden spike around the start of April in its migrant worker population. The death rate has also been extremely low)

Indonesia – 13,645 and 959

(Regional health NGOs are sure that the infected numbers are much higher in the archipelago)

Philippines – 10,610 and 704

(Also has the highest death rate amongst the SE Asian nations although still extremely low compared with the European death rates)

Malaysia – 6,589 and 108

Thailand – 3,004 and 56

(The daily infection rate is now in single digits for the past two weeks)

Vietnam – 288 and 0

Myanmar – 178 and 6

(Myanmar also has the lowest testing rate of any of the reporting ASEAN countries)

Cambodia – 122 and 0

Laos – 19 and 0

Brunei has reported no Covid-19 cases.

All the statistics are from the worldometers.info website.

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