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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Trump claims “evidence” that virus originated in Wuhan lab, WHO wants to join investigation

Jack Burton

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Trump claims “evidence” that virus originated in Wuhan lab, WHO wants to join investigation | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Statesman
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US President Donald Trump claimed yesterday in a nationally televised address that he “has seen evidence” the the Covid-19 coronavirus originated in a Wuhan epidmiology lab, an assertion roundly disputed by scientists and intelligence agencies, and which threatens to turn into a diplomatic disaster. He declined to share the evidence, claiming he is “not allowed.” The claim was almost immediately contradicted by intelligence officials and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a devout Trump loyalist.

“We don’t know precisely where it began.”

The claim, long denied by Beijing, could stir tensions even as the World Health Organisation requests to participate in a Chinese investigation into the “animal origins” of the pandemic. Scientists believe the killer virus jumped from animals to humans, emerging in China late last year, possibly from a market in Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat.

But speculation, reinforced by internet rumours and America’s right-wing radio pundits, has swirled about a top-secret lab, and seems to have been taken up by the US President.

There is in fact nothing secret about the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has received hundreds of millions in US funding for its research, a move defended only days ago by Pompeo.

When asked if he had seen evidence to make him think the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the outbreak, Trump replied: “Yes, I have.”

But he refused to give details and Secretary of State Pompeo indicated he had not seen definitive evidence.

“We don’t know if it came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. We don’t know if it emanated from the wet market or yet some other place. We don’t know those answers.”

Trump claims

PHOTO: Haaretz

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said analysts would “continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine” the origin of the outbreak.

In Geneva, a spokesman for the World Health Organisation said several investigations into the source of the virus were ongoing, adding that the global agency was “not currently involved in the studies in China”.

“WHO would be keen to work with international partners and, at the invitation of the Chinese government, to participate in investigation around the animal origins,”

Beijing has steadfastly denied the lab was the source of the virus. Last month foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian pointedly stressed that “WHO officials have repeatedly stated that there is no single piece of evidence that the new coronavirus was produced in a laboratory.”

“Many well-known medical experts in the world also believe that the so-called laboratory leak hypothesis has no scientific basis.”

US President Trump is making China’s handling of the outbreak a major narrative for his November reelection campaign.

SOURCES: AFP

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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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    edwin mitchell

    May 3, 2020 at 10:20 am

    kinda sad that you just copy pasted an AFP release. They are the MSM and are known to be untrustworthy. A better and far more interesting angle would have been on the findings that that very lab from which the virus seems to have originated recieved US government funding and is part owned by his own medical consultant on the COV ID, Dr Anthony Fauci.

    Now THAT would be an interesting read. That Trump accuses a lab owned by his own advisor.

    I miss the days of actual journalism before all this boring PR cut and paste started filling up the “news feeds”.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

No new Covid-19 cases in 65 provinces for a month

Jack Burton

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No new Covid-19 cases in 65 provinces for a month | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand Medical News

The Covid-19 situation in Thailand is improving: the Ministry of Public Health announced yesterday that 65 of Thailand’s 76 provinces have reported no new cases for a full month. But it says the situation is “still not stable enough”, and the government continues to screen people returning from abroad and is proactively testing suspected cases.

The deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control says that the number of cases in Thailand is relatively low and is divided into 2 main groups: Thai nationals returning from abroad and people who had close contact with previous cases. Returnees are placed in mandatory 14 day quarantine to see if they develop symptoms.

But academics have pointed out that there may still be some people infected with the virus without showing symptoms in areas around the country. They have not been tested and could potentially infect others. Therefore, they say, the Ministry of Public Health needs to stay proactive in maintaining a wide ranging testing program. (Thailand has not had a “wide ranging testing program”. Thailand has tested 5,380 people per 1 million population. In comparison, Singapore has tested 57,250 people per 1 million population.)

The Thai ministry’s caution shows an extreme risk-aversion when compared to many other countries that are now opening up despite much higher rates of transmission, but with certain precautions and restrictions in place.

An analysis of the numbers of infections in different parts of Thailand shows 10 provinces have had no cases at all. However, 42 provinces have a fatality rate of 0.1 to 1%, 18 provinces have a rate of 1.1 to 5%, 2 provinces have 5.1 to 10% and 5 provinces have a death rate higher than 10%.

In the past month, 65 provinces reported no new cases. Although the figures are low, it’s is possible that some people are asymptomatic, particularly in greater Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Chonburi and the 4 southern border provinces.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Economy

PM assures MPs that government knows how to handle trillion baht loan

Maya Taylor

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PM assures MPs that government knows how to handle trillion baht loan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.physiciansweekly.com

“Don’t worry, we got this…”

Following the Finance Ministry’s securing of a trillion baht loan, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke up to address concerns over how the funds will be administered. Answering questions raised by opposition parties, the PM said the government has clear rules in place on how the funds will be distributed, with the priority being small and medium sized businesses that have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

He was speaking as Parliament debated the 3 decrees enacted in the wake of the pandemic, the first of which was to allow for the borrowing of a trillion baht. The PM promises full transparency in how the funds are used, saying the loan has been taken out to prevent small businesses from going bust, which would lead to a further significant rise in unemployment.

A second decree is in place to enable small businesses and start-ups to take advantage of soft loans to survive the huge toll the virus has taken on the economy. Thai PBS World reports the Finance Minister as saying such businesses will receive help with their applications if they are unaccustomed to securing credit from banks.

While the first decree enabled the government to secure a trillion baht loan, the Bank of Thailand says neither the soft loan decree nor an additional bond stabilisation decree will mean more debt for the country. Rather the central bank’s existing funds will be used to help the bond market and to give businesses the lifeline they need in the current exceptional circumstances.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces re-entry procedures for foreigners

Anukul

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces re-entry procedures for foreigners | The Thaiger

Yesterday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent out a letter to all Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand explaining the details and procedures for non-Thai nationals to re-enter the country. This procedure is not for only for people who legally work in Thailand. Those who don’t have a work permit yet, but your new employer can get permission from the Ministry of Labour, you can apply to enter Thailand.

Those who urgently need to enter the Kingdom may submit an application for entry. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has consulted the board of Investment and the Ministry of Labour and they will consider all requests for entry on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the level of importance and urgency.

Here are the procedures for non-Thais wishing to submit an application for entry:

Contact the Royal Thai Embassy or the Royal Thai Consulate-General our country of departure.

  1. Apply for a ‘Certificate of Entry into the Kingdom of Thailand (note that 10 working days before departure)Documents required
    • Copy of work permit
    • Copy of letter of permission (issued by Thai government)
    • Valid Health insurance (covering all expenditures of medical treatment, including Covid-19 worth at least 100,000 US dollars)
    • If the application is approved the Thai Embassy will be instructed to issue the “Certificate of Entry.”
  2. At the port of departure the following documents will be required before you can be allowed reentry.
    1. a certificate of entry
    2. A complete and signed ‘Declaration form ‘
    3. a “fit to fly” certificate (issued no more than 72 hours before flight)
    4. Proof of health insurance covering all expenditures.
  3. Upon entry into the Kingdom, all arrivals nationals will be subjected to a mandatory 14 day state quarantine.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces re-entry procedures for foreigners | News by The ThaigerMinistry of Foreign Affairs announces re-entry procedures for foreigners | News by The Thaiger

 

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