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Trump announces withdrawal from WHO over China claims

Jack Burton

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Trump announces withdrawal from WHO over China claims | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Al Jazeera

The UN has announced that the US is leaving the World Health Organisation effective July 6, 2021, after official notice from US President Donald Trump, who has been sharply critical of the agency’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. He had accused the WHO of being “a puppet of China”. The WHO has denied assertions by President Trump that it promoted Chinese “disinformation” about the virus.

Trump announced the decision over a month ago, and by law, must give a year’s notice of withdrawal from the Geneva-based body as well as pay all Washington’s dues under a 1948 joint resolution of the US Congress. The US currently owes more than US$200 million in assessed contributions, according to the WHO website. After more than 70 years of membership, and as the organisation’s main sponsor, the US is quitting the WHO amid rising tensions with China over the coronavirus pandemic. The virus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s official withdrawal “an act of true senselessness as WHO coordinates the global fight against Covid-19.”

“With millions of lives at risk, the President is crippling the international effort to defeat the virus.”

The number of cases worldwide is rapidly approaching 12 million, with more than 546,000 known deaths worldwide, with about 25% of both cases and deaths in the US. Trump’s decision could be overturned if he is defeated by his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the November general election.

Trump stopped funding for the 194-member organisation in April, then in a May letter gave the WHO 30 days to commit to reforms. Less than 2 weeks later he announced the United States would leave the organization.

Vice President Mike Pence, was asked in a Fox News Channel interview, whether it was the right time to break with the WHO.

“It’s absolutely the right time.”

“The World Health Organisation let the world down… There have to be consequences to this.”

The WHO is an independent international body that works with the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the WHO is “absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19.”

Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has quit the UN Human Rights Council, the UN cultural agency, a global accord to tackle climate change and the Iran nuclear deal. He has also cut funding for the UN population fund and the UN agency that provides aid for Palestinian refugees.

SOURCE: Reuters

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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)

Cabinet approves budget of over 6.3 billion baht for 35 million more vaccine doses

Maya Taylor

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Cabinet approves budget of over 6.3 billion baht for 35 million more vaccine doses | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Hakan Nural for UnSplash

The Thai government has approved a budget of 6.387 billion baht to procure an additional 35 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. The budget was approved at a Cabinet meeting yesterday, according to a government spokesperson.

Nation Thailand reports that the budget will be divided into 5.6 billion baht, which will be spent on AstraZeneca vaccines, with 700 million baht going on preparation and rollout at a local level. It’s understood officials expect to take delivery of the new consignment at the same time as it receives the 26 million AstraZeneca doses and 2 million Sinovac doses already on order.

In total, this will give Thailand 63 million doses. In PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s “PM Podcast,” he said 63 million doses will cover approximately 31.5 million people. It’s understood the Public Health Ministry is also in talks with other vaccine manufacturers. Johnson & Johnson has already begun the process of applying to register its single-dose vaccine in the Kingdom. Thailand currently has a limited number of vaccine doses, with high-risk provinces and groups being given priority. The government plans to open vaccine registration to general members of the public in May.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Governor of Samut Sakhon recovering from Covid-19 after more than 40 days on ventilator

Maya Taylor

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Governor of Samut Sakhon recovering from Covid-19 after more than 40 days on ventilator | The Thaiger
PHOTO: National News Bureau of Thailand

The governor of the central province of Samut Sakhon is slowly recovering after more than 2 months battling Covid-19. Weerasak Wichitsangsri tested positive for the virus in late December and subsequently ended up on a ventilator for over 40 days. It’s understood Weerasak’s time on the ventilator was a record for the hospital and at times, medics were unsure if he would recover.

Prasit Watanapa from the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital says Weerasak is now off the ventilator and able to breathe normally, as well as talking, walking, and eating unaided. The Pattaya News reports that the governor’s symptoms improved over the last week, but he remains under close medical supervision. Prasit says he will be tested for antibodies, to determine if he should receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Only his muscle functions still need to be treated. The medical team is considering if the governor could have his rehabilitation at home or at Siriraj Hospital. It all depends on his further recovery.”

Weerasak has now been in hospital for more than 2 months, after testing positive for the virus on December 28, after attending a meeting at Samut Sakhon hospital. The central province is seen as the epicentre of the second wave of the virus, which emerged late last year. Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, who was also at the meeting, had to self-isolate following Weerasak’s diagnosis.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Thai PM orders Foreign Ministry to conduct vaccine passport study

Maya Taylor

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Thai PM orders Foreign Ministry to conduct vaccine passport study | The Thaiger
PHOTO: TTR Weekly

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, says the government will look into the possibility of a vaccine passport policy, with discussions set to take place on Monday. The PM has asked the Foreign Ministry to carry out a study on the use of vaccine passports, but adds that there is no guarantee such a system would work at international level.

“So, at this point, I have ordered a study to be conducted around this idea in preparation for (a future use of it) so that Thailand will be able to keep up with other countries. Opinions about the Covid-19 vaccine passport system still vary, even in Thailand.”

Meanwhile, Opas Karnkawinpong from the Department of Disease Control says Monday’s meeting of the National Communicable Diseases Council will include a discussion on vaccine passports and the possibility of reducing the mandatory quarantine period. It’s understood the Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, has asked that everybody vaccinated in Thailand be provided with a certification of vaccination to help with any overseas travel plans.

Opas says he’s unsure about vaccinated people who want to come to Thailand, pointing out that the World Health Organisation has not yet outlined any criteria for vaccine passports. He adds that international talks and mutual agreements may need to be put in place first.

“The mandatory quarantine measures in Thailand will be based on the incubation period of the virus, which cannot be determined yet as nobody knows how the vaccine will affect it. The incubation period can be longer or shorter, as vaccines currently do not provide 100% protection. This will also be discussed at the meeting.”

Some countries, such as the US, the UK, and EU member states are understood to be considering a digital vaccine passport, although others have voiced objection to such a plan, questioning the efficacy of vaccines and whether they offer total protection.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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