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US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman questions claims that Covid-19 came from Wuhan laboratory

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US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman questions claims that Covid-19 came from Wuhan laboratory | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff - CNN
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The head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed yesterday that it remains unknown whether the coronavirus emerged from a wet market in China, a laboratory or some other location. Army General Mark Milley reaffirmed the view of scientists and the world intelligence community “that it was probably not man-made”.

“Did it come out of the virology lab in Wuhan? Did it occur in a wet market there in Wuhan? Did it occur somewhere else? And the answer to that is: We don’t know.”

He was speaking at a news conference yesterday but added that the US is “looking into it”.

The remarks are in stark contrast to both the US President and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks over the past five days that there was “a significant amount of evidence that the new coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory”.

The US Secretary of State said Sunday on an ABC television program that there was “enormous evidence” that the coronavirus pandemic originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

“There is enormous evidence that this is where it began.”

Pompeo declined to say whether he thought the virus had been intentionally released.

Last Thursday, the US President Donal Trump was asked by a reporter at the White House… “Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?”

“Yes, I have. Yes, I have. And I think the World Health Organisation should be ashamed of themselves because they’re like the public relations agency for China.”

Asked later to clarify his comment, he said… “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”

Neither the US President or the Secretary of State have been forthcoming with evidence to back up their claims.

Meanwhile the President’s appointed leading scientist Dr Anthony Fauci has again dismissed claims that the coronavirus was created in a Chinese laboratory.

“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, the evidence is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,”

Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that this virus evolved in nature and then jumped species.”

The Wuhan Institute of Virology has dismissed the allegation, and other US officials have downplayed the likelihood that it is true.

An the Five Eyes, a network involving UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada intelligence officials, say they do believe that Beijing has not necessarily been transparent about how coronavirus initially spread in Wuhan at the turn of the year, but say they have seen no evidence linking the virus to any lab, or assertions that it is ‘man-made’.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The Thai government threw a tourist party (sound of crickets) | VIDEO

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The Thai government threw a tourist party (sound of crickets) | VIDEO | The Thaiger

The Thai Government, flushed with the success of their containment of Covid-19, decided to market the Land of Smiles to the world as the safe place to travel. With the annual wet season starting to weaken the tourists would flock back to the S E Asian country that had such a remarkable success containing, then almost eradicating itself, of the coronavirus.

Then they came up with the STV – the special tourist visa which would have the world’s eager travellers packing their sun cream for up to 270 days of Thai tourism.

There were promises of plane loads of tourists and even published flights and carriers. A few flights arrived, most didn’t.

In fact, since the start of the STV, the Special Tourist Visa, with its long list of restrictions and requirements, was floated, along with a re-vamped Tourist Visa, less than 400 people have arrived per month, on average, since the end of October. In the October and November of the year before more than 3 million people arrived in Thailand. Even the government’s limit of 1,200 new tourist arrivals per month was even slightly tested.

The government had bought all the streamers and a pretty new dress for the party but no one came.

What went wrong?

Where was the much-anticipated pent-up demand and people banging on the doors of the world’s Thai embassies?

It was the European winter and the ‘snowbirds’ would surely be back to soak in some Thai sun rays. But no.

The first problem was there wasn’t much for them to come back to. They would have the beaches of the islands all to themselves, they wouldn’t have to wait in line for anything, the domestic airlines were still selling low fares to Tavel anywhere around the country.

But otherwise there wasn’t a lot for them to do. The tourism magnets were a shadow of their former selves. Walking Street, Bangla Road, tours and tour boats, all the tourist strip restaurants. The buzz of the crowds was gone and more than 90% of the tourist-related business had closed up.

Their staff, their families, their bank loans, their stock and investments – all on hold and forced to find come other means to make ends meet. 931 of some of the larger official tourism operators have now gone out of business, according to Bloomberg News. There would be thousands of the smaller family operations that have also been swept aside by the Thai government’s responses to the world pandemic.

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 travel pass to pilot on Etihad and Emirates Airways flights

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Covid-19 travel pass to pilot on Etihad and Emirates Airways flights | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Travel Daily

A travel pass for passengers inoculated against Covid-19 or who have tested negative will be piloted on flights for Dubai’s Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways. With the travel pass issued by the International Air Transport Association, passengers can keep control of their data and share their test results with airlines and authorities for travel.

The travel pass will be offered on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter, and will expand the pass to other destinations of the trail is successful. Emirates is going to implement phase 1 of the travel pass in April for flights departing from Dubai.

Recently, the IATA travel pass programme has been also tested in International Airlines Group and Singapore Airlines.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Outbreak in Samut Sakhon is “worrying,” CCSA spokesperson says

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Outbreak in Samut Sakhon is “worrying,” CCSA spokesperson says | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Matichon

While the number of daily new Covid-19 cases continues to drop, health officials are still scrambling to contain the virus in the prime hotspot: Samut Sakhon. The outbreak in the coastal fishing province is “worrying,” according to Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson Taweesilp Visanuyothin.

Health officials rolled out a proactive mass testing campaign after a spike of Covid-19 cases in mid-December. The vast majority of cases were concentrated around the Central Shrimp Market in the Mahachai fishing hub, which affected a large migrant population. The virus has since spread to 61 of Thailand’s 77 provinces.

With the help of proactive testing, more than 4,000 cases were reported in Samut Sakhon. Field hospitals have been set up on the fly to treat and quarantine those that are infected.

But public health officials are still racing to test as many people in the province as possible with plans to inspect 600 factories and test 50 factory workers per day. There are 12,000 factories in Samut Sakhon and Taweeslip says health officials are speeding up testing to “isolate infected people as soon as possible.”

“The outbreak in Samut Sakhon is worrying. It is difficult to conduct active case-finding there. There are many obstacles, including the number of factories… Meanwhile, factory owners and workers must cooperate. There are more than 10,000 small factories where 1-200 people are employed.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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