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Top 6 fake coronavirus news stories

Jack Burton



Top 6 fake coronavirus news stories | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Hong Kong pedestrians wearing face masks cross a road on Monday - The Bangkok Post
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The deadly Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak, which has infected thousands and spread to 15 countries since it emerged in China, has also spawned many false claims on social media. Here’s a selection of false stories debunked by AFP’s Fact Check service…

1. Sydney food is not contaminated
In Australia, multiple Facebook posts shared hundreds of times claim to show a list of foods and locations in Sydney which have been contaminated by the new coronavirus. One post, published Monday, identified different types of rice, cookies and onion rings that allegedly contained “traces of the virus”. It also claimed that a “bureau of diseasology” had run tests and discovered the strain in several Sydney suburbs.

But local health authorities told AFP the locations listed posed no risk to visitors, and the foods named did not appear in the New South Wales food authority’s list of recalls and advisories.

2. Video is not Wuhan market
A video with more than 88,000 views on Facebook alone purported to show the market in Wuhan where the virus strain is thought to have begun. In reality, it was filmed at an Indonesian market.

The post was published on an account in the Philippines on Sunday, and showed bats, rats, snakes and an assortment of other animals and meat products being sold at a busy market. AFP has confirmed the video was in fact of a market in Indonesia in 2019.

3. Fake death projections
A Sri Lankan Facebook post shared thousands of times claims doctors are projecting that the entire population of Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, would likely die of the coronavirus. This is false; neither Chinese nor any other authorities have made any such projection.

4. Salt water can’t kill the virus
Multiple posts on social media platforms both outside and within China have claimed a Chinese expert told people to rinse their mouths with salt water to prevent infection. The claim is false; the named expert’s team said saline will not “kill” the virus and urged people not to believe or share online rumours.

5. Conspiracy theories
Multiple posts on Twitter and Facebook allege that the Novel Coronavirus was created intentionally, with one theory even speculating that it was manufactured by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These posts included patents, but they were registered to combat different strains of coronavirus, by developing vaccines, for example.

6. False alarm in France
Several social media posts have circulated in France claiming that people have been infected in numerous parts of the country. These false reports were accompanied by digitally manipulated images made to resemble screenshots from several French news sources, including AFP.

However while there were four confirmed cases in France as of yesterday, no cases have been confirmed in the reported areas.

In a related development, AFP also debunked a claim about a Wuhan hospital for coronavirus patients which was allegedly completed in just 16 hours: the photo is a stock image of the hospital that has circulated online since at least January 2019; AFP visited the construction site of a new hospital in Wuhan on Monday and found it was still in the very early stages of construction.

Top 6 fake coronavirus news stories | News by The Thaiger



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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)

Teen near the Thai-Myanmar border tests positive for Covid-19

Caitlin Ashworth



Teen near the Thai-Myanmar border tests positive for Covid-19 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

A Burmese teenager who lives near the Thai-Myanmar border tested positive for Covid-19. Now, Thai border patrol officers are tightening security even more to make sure Myanmar’s outbreak doesn’t cross the border and cause a second wave in Thailand.

The 17 year old Burmese boy tested positive for Covid-19 last week. Reports say the teen was in Myanmar’s Payatongsu district, about 5 kilometres from the Three Pagodas Pass checkpoint bordering Kanchanaburi. The teen started having symptoms on September 11 and tested positive on September 17.

Only around 13 people were reportedly in close contact with the teen and they are now in quarantine at a district school. Health officials suspect the teen was exposed to the virus from his uncle who had travelled to Moulmein, a large city near Yangon which had a spike in coronavirus cases. The uncle has been tested and is in quarantine, but his test results are still pending.

In another case, a 2 year old Burmese child tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand. A report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department says the child most likely contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar around September 4 to September 10. The family travelled to Mae Sot and entered Myanmar through natural passageways. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Since Myanmar reported a surge in cases, starting mostly in the country’s Rakhine state on the western coast, Thailand has been increasing border patrol to make sure people are not entering Thailand illegally and potentially spreading the virus. Now that there are cases in some Myanmar border towns, Thailand checkpoints are on high alert.

The daily number of Covid-19 cases in Myanmar continues to rise. The country reported a total of 6,471 cases with 100 deaths and 1,445 recoveries, according to Worldometer.

In some border districts, police have placed barbed wire along the border to prevent people from entering illegally. Security has increased and dozens of migrants have been arrested in the past month for allegedly entering Thailand illegally. Even volunteers have stepped up to patrol the borders. No migrants arrested for allegedly crossing the border have tested positive for the virus.

Daily new Covid-19 cases in Myanmar

Teen near the Thai-Myanmar border tests positive for Covid-19 | News by The Thaiger

The daily number of Covid-19 cases in Myanmar continues to rise. As of September 22, the country reported 6,471 cases with 100 deaths and 1,445 recoveries, according to Worldometer.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Struggling airlines to get reprieve through small loans, extension to fuel tax cut

Maya Taylor



Struggling airlines to get reprieve through small loans, extension to fuel tax cut | The Thaiger

Airlines in Thailand are being offered a financial lifeline, as the Government Savings Bank announces soft loans for carriers left struggling as a result of the current Covid-19 ‘disruption’. Nation Thailand reports that the GSB is offering the loans over a 60 month period, with an annual interest rate of 2%. Chairman Patchara Anuntasilpa says the proposal will shortly be put to Cabinet for approval.

Airlines have been left financially devastated by the fallout from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with countries closing their borders, passenger numbers plummeting, and carriers forced to slash the number of flights on offer. The services available, including the food services, were also curtailed early on as a preventative measure but that restriction has since been lifted. The effect is being keenly felt by all the airlines in Thailand, with the Kingdom’s borders closed to nearly all international traffic since March.

In a further effort to ease the financial crisis faced by Thai airlines, the Excise Department says it will extend the fuel tax cut for low-cost carriers by another 6 months from the end of this month. Patchara, who also serves as director-general of the Excise Department, says the tax may end up being abolished completely. In normal times, taxation on aviation fuel generates around 1 billion baht a year.

Air Asia has also cut some of its ground costs by using airport buses to ferry passengers from a cheaper aircraft parking area, back to the terminals, foregoing the costs of the airport airbridges. Flights from Phuket to Don Mueang, for example, are now a full ‘bus’ service, sometimes adding an additional 15 minutes at either end for the loading up of the buses and the trip to the planes or the terminal.

It’s understood the excise tax collected since October 2019 totals 503 billion baht, down more than 6.5% on last year’s figure. Most of the income comes from oil or oil products, cars, alcohol, and cigarettes.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Phuket’s governor calls for help in restoring island’s economy

Maya Taylor



Phuket’s governor calls for help in restoring island’s economy | The Thaiger
Shuttered businesses along Bangla Road in Patong yesterday

The governor of Phuket has likened the southern province to a “patient in a coma”, as he pleads for help to restore its devastated economy. According to a report in the Bangkok Post, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew was addressing a Public Health Association forum, where he highlighted the economic crisis caused by the ongoing ban on international tourists. The island’s international airport closed in April, shutting off the supply of international tourists, and cutting off the flow of international money flowing into the island’s tourist economy.

The latest figures show that Phuket has lost over 400 billion baht since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The island’s economy is, either directly or indirectly, 90% reliant on a steady flow of international tourists, and has seen a massive tourist infrastructure boom over the past 20 years, including accommodation, tours, tour boats, tours buses and passenger vans, international shows, new roads, restaurants and rentals – all aimed at the many levels of traveller budgets.

Governor Narong predicts the province will face similar hardship next year, and is calling on the government to organise conferences and other events that will attract more visitors to the province.

“So far, the province has invited 15,000 village health volunteers in the south to travel and spend time in the province while today’s seminar is bringing in 10,000 attendees and followers and will relieve some of the hardship.”

Meanwhile, PHA president Prapat Thamwongsa, says the forum gives those attending the opportunity to share knowledge and advice on tackling the spread of disease, with presentations and competitions addressing all public health activities.

Phuket usually receives around 14 million visitors every year, with around 10-11 million arriving from outside Thailand. The airport usually welcomes up to 300 international flights a day but is now only receiving around 80 flights a day, since the ban on foreign flights started in April. Narong says an estimated 40,000 of the island’s workers are now unemployed, while those still employed have taken hefty pay cuts of anything from 20% to a hefty 90%. Less than 30% of the province’s hotels are currently open.

“Phuket is like a patient in a coma in ICU. So, it is necessary for all stakeholders to help restore Phuket as quickly as possible.”

The Cabinet recently approved a long-stay visa (the Special Tourist Visa) for tourists who wish to visit the Kingdom, although critics say the strict requirements, coupled with the extortionate cost of the mandatory 14 day quarantine, make it unworkable. The new visa is also insisting that travellers will have to arrive on restricted charter or private jet flights, adding further cost and restrictions.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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