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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

US evacuates citizens from Japan virus ship as China death passes 1700

Greeley Pulitzer

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US evacuates citizens from Japan virus ship as China death passes 1700 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: US passengers board a plane at Tokyo's Haneda Airport to fly home after they left the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship off Yokohama - AFP
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Some US citizens from the cruise ship Diamond Princess, currently quarantined off the coast of Japan, have been evacuated and flown home, where they face a further 14 day quarantine. Other nations are preparing to follow suit as global concern grows over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and the death toll at its epicentre in China topped 1,700. More than 70,500 in China have been infected by the flu-like disease, which has sparked panic buying and jitters over the global economic impact.

The Diamond Princess represents the biggest cluster of infections outside of China. Cases have climbed to 355, despite passengers being confined to their cabins. Governments are scrambling to repatriate their citizens amid growing criticism of Japan’s handling of the crisis, with Canada, Australia, Italy, Israel and Hong Kong all poised to evacuate their citizens.

This morning, a convoy of buses driven by people in protective suits removed American passengers from the ship after a makeshift passport control. There were no health checks at that point, said one US passenger, a 52 year old medical social worker, who complained that the US government “should have acted much sooner, at the beginning.”

“I am happy and ready to go. We need a proper quarantine. This was not it.”

The US embassy in Japan has confirmed two jets had left Japan en route to the US. Those on board expected to undergo a further 14-day quarantine period on US soil.

But some Americans on the ship declined to go. An American lawyer on the ship with his wife tweeted:

“My health is fine. And my two-week quarantine is almost over. Why would I want to be put on a bus and a plane with other people they think may be infected when I have spent nearly two weeks isolated from those people?”

He described a fellow American standing on her balcony chanting “USA, USA” as buses arrived to collect them.

“Of course, in contravention of the rules of quarantine, she’s not wearing a face mask, and she’s talking with a passenger on the adjacent balcony… And you wanted me to get on a bus with her?”

Forty US passengers tested positive for the virus and were rushed to hospitals in Japan, according to Anthony Fauci, a senior official at the National Institutes for Health. It isn’t clear if they were already counted among the 355 known cases on the ship.

Chinese authorities have placed about 56 million people in Hubei province and its capital Wuhan under quarantine, virtually sealing off the province from the rest of the country and the world in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus. New cases outside the central province have been steadily declining for the last thirteen days. There were 115 fresh cases outside the central province — sharply down from nearly 450 a week ago.

Chinese authorities are quick to point to the slowing rise as proof their measures to stem the spread are working, even as the death toll climbed to 1,770.

But World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned it is “impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

All new arrivals to Thailand banned, effective immediately

Greeley Pulitzer

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All new arrivals to Thailand banned, effective immediately | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Asia Times

Effective today, and until at least April 15, Thailand will bar all arrivals due to the increasing number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases.

Thaveesilp Wissanuyothin, spokesman of the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, says that PM Prayut Chan-ocha has ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue a new directive prohibiting any new arrivals.

“The spread of Covid-19 must be stopped. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will give more details on the directive. However, people who already have permission and who need to enter Thailand are exempted, but there will be a strict process via the embassy.”

Thaveesilp says Thais returning from overseas and foreign visitors are partly responsible for the continuing rise in the number of new infections.

“Though the number of travellers from overseas has significantly declined, the PM believes more needs to be done to stem overseas arrivals in order to further flatten the curve.”

He says the PM wants to see stringent measures imposed on overseas arrivals between April 2-15. The Foreign Ministry has been tasked to find out ways to implement the directive from the PM.

Asked whether the government is moving toward imposing curfew to enforce its “stay at home” measure, Thaveesilp said “just wait for what the prime minister will have to say today.”

He says 4 of the 6 Thais who recently returned from Italy tested positive for the virus, with another 50 people who have come into contact with them being quarantined.

As many as 47 of the 132 Thai Muslims in southern Thailand who returned from a religious function outside Kuala Lumpur last month have also tested positive and 4 have died. More than 1,000 people had to be quarantined as a result.

Four executives of the CP Group, Thailand’s largest private company and one of world’s largest conglomerates, returned recently from negotiating the Tesco deal and one of them died after being infected with the virus.

Thaveesilp says these figures only reinforce concerns that the spread of the deadly virus cannot be curbed if people from overseas continue to be allowed in without more stringent screening.

He says the PM told the Foreign Ministry to further tighten restrictions on Thais planning to return from abroad, asking them to postpone their trips until after April 15. This new measure, he said, applies to all Thai citizens abroad, including American Field Service exchange program students who are living in the US with their host families, with the exception for those already issued with permits to return to Thailand.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Thailand hit 1,875 today with 104 new infections confirmed over a 24-hour period, a fifth consecutive drop in the daily number. 3 more deaths were reported.

Source: The Nation | Thai PBS World

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

New Covid-19 test kits produced in Thailand

Anukul

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New Covid-19 test kits produced in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: chiangmainews.co.th

Today the first batch of 20,000 new Covid-19 test kits, developed by a joint effort of the Siam Bioscience and The Department of Medical Science, has been delivered to Government House. Each locally produced test kit costs around 1,500 baht each, while imported ones will cost about 4,500 baht each.

The association of Siam Bioscience and The Department of Medical Science aim to produce 20,000 test kits every week, and once 100,000 kits have been produced, they will be distributed among 100 hospitals nationwide.

Meanwhile, the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation yesterday approved the urgent purchase of 400,000 N95 masks and the same number of personal protection suits from China. A budget of 660 million baht has been earmarked for the purchase. China will send 150,000 by air within this week and will ship 250,000 in the next few weeks.

A similar story where Chulalongkorn University has developed, and currently testing, a new blood test for the Covid-19 virus. The “Baiya Rapid Covid-19” testing strip uses blood drawn from the fingertip and delivers results in 10 to 15 minutes.

SOURCE: The Nation

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News & Updates

National curfew announced. Takes effect tomorrow.

Greeley Pulitzer

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National curfew announced. Takes effect tomorrow. | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Jack

Thailand will announce a nationwide curfew between 10pm – 4am starting tomorrow (Friday) to try to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. The government made the announcement in a statement today.

There will be some exceptions to the new measure, including the transport of medical supplies, movement of people into quarantine, patients and travel of medical personnel, according to the statement presented this afternoon.

“The prime minister will make the announcement this evening on national television around 6 pm”

Thailand has been under a national state of emergency since last week and has closed its borders to foreigners.

SOURCE: Reuters

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