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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

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

The Thaiger

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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)

Another family kept apart by Thai red tape and quarantine confusion

The Thaiger

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Another family kept apart by Thai red tape and quarantine confusion | The Thaiger

Sometimes you cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s and it’s still not enough to satisfy the paper-pushers, especially at this disruptive time in Thailand, and everywhere else. One Australian father has ended up separated from his family – he’s in Australia and his wife and 2 children are in Thailand being shuffled around Phuket and Bangkok in a Thai paperwork nightmare. Sam Kelly wants his family onto a repatriation flight being organised by the Australian Embassy out of Bangkok on June 6. For now, for reasons not immediately apparent, that’s not going to happen.

“I just want to get my family out of quarantine and onto this flight. I understand that this is not normal circumstances. But the facts are: The Thai and Australian governments have put on this flight to repatriate citizens to Australia. The Thais and the Australians have already shown they can be flexible, but now it looks as though my family might miss this flight. They have been tested and are Covid-19 free.”

The full story of Sam and his family’s plight is below. But Sam is grateful for the help from Australian consular officials up to now.

“I want to thank all the Australian consular staff in Bangkok and Canberra that have been helping me. You have been a great help in a very difficult situation.”

Sam’s story is one among thousands of families separated by the lockdowns and border closures in Thailand, and around the world. The Thaiger believes Sam’s wife and kids, and similar families, should be put on the top of the list of repatriation efforts when bans are lifted and flights resume.

The Thaiger hopes cooler-heads prevail in this case and that Sam, Kanny, Ronny and Adam are back together again soon.

Here is the full unedited text from Sam…


Help me get my family to Australia.

I’m one of the many offshore workers around the world that have been prevented from re uniting with their families

My base is in Phuket Thailand and has been for the last 15 years, I have a wife and 2 children. My wife’s name is Kannika “Kanny” Polngam who is a Thai national and my 2 kids Ronald “Ronny” Kelly (2) and Adam Kelly (5), who are dual Thai and Australian citizens with passports.

On the 12th of February I left Phuket to go on a 4 week on 4 week off rotation. I saw the situation regarding Covid-19 was deteriorating, so I started the process of getting my family out to Australia. I chose to stay here in Australia, so I was available for work, and still be able to provide for my family.

On the 5th of March my kids were taken out of school in Phuket and very strict curfews were imposed to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Flights in and out of Thailand all but stopped with the occasional charter/repatriation flight going out of Bangkok to a few different airports in Australia. I managed to secure a flight on only one of 2 flights from Thailand to Australia for the whole month of June. I spoke with Australian consular officials in Bangkok on the phone and was told that it was a good idea to get the family up to Bangkok in case they needed to do more paperwork, etc.

On around the 19th of May, I told Kanny to just lock the house up, throw away anything we don’t need, just pack a few bags and drive off the island, stay with her parents in Bangkok and wait for the flight. She obtained permission from the Wichit Police Department in Phuket Town to leave the island and drive to make the long 12 hour drive to Bangkok. After being granted permission to get off the island my family was stopped at a Surathani checkpoint which is a few hours north of Phuket and directed to drive directly to:

Queen Sirikit Stadium
Klong 6, Tanyaburi, Pathumthani, Bangkok

When they arrived on the 21st of May they were all locked into a very small apartment that was once student housing at a university.

Kanny contacted the authorities and started to make noise. Everyone in my family has been self isolated for months. The kids actually had more people from the schools and government checking on their welfare in our Phuket house than in this little state sanctioned Bangkok student accommodation. No Thais authorities are checking on their welfare now, they just get a few bags of food thrown on their doorstop every day.

After Kanny made some noise the Thai authorities came and did a Covid-19 check on everyone. The results came back negative the next day and it was agreed that they would all be released and go to my mother and father in laws house nearby in Bangkok.

Now today it is Friday, my wife just got a phone call and one of the head honchos there by the name of Mr Boonlert, he has decided to revoke what he promised which was them being released into self isolation. The date that they will be released now is the 6th of June. This is one day after this flight leaves from Bangkok to Brisbane.

Another family kept apart by Thai red tape and quarantine confusion | News by The ThaigerAnother family kept apart by Thai red tape and quarantine confusion | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Kannika and the two boys are removed from the self-isolation they had been granted and returned to state quarantine – khaosod.co.th

During this time the Australian Consulate and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been in touch with me stating, they cannot issue a ticket for my family to fly to Australia on this special flight until the family are out of quarantine. The Thai authorities have quite happily let people transit through Bangkok who have tickets out of Thailand, but as the Thai authorities have my family in detention, the Australians authorities will not issue a ticket to fly out.

So I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, my family has:

• Been in self isolation for months
• Been checked regularly by the Thai government and their school teachers doing home visits during the time schools closed on the 5th of March
• Have attended regular doctors appointments, including a health screen for my wife to apply for an Australian visa
• Have been in enforced state quarantine for over a week now and passed a Covid-19 test which was a horrible experience for them
• Look like they might miss one of the last flights back to Australia due to this Thai state quarantine period and if by some miracle they make the flight, they have the absolute joy of doing another 2 week quarantine in a hotel in Australia

Thousands of people have travelled to Bangkok from Phuket and none of them have been quarantined, the quarantine is actually a DISCRETION. There has been Australians being repatriated from Phuket, and they have been able to travel hassle free to Bangkok and wait for their flights out. Why are my kids the only Australians that have been locked up? I’m having serious concerns about their mental health at the moment.

All I want is the best for my kids, and neither the Australian or Thai public servants are providing that now.

These boys have not played with another kid or seen a blade of grass since the 5th of March, that means that if they went to Australia, it would be over 3 and a half months by the time they finished their last isolation period.

I have paid taxes in both countries for many years. I want some sort of communication between the Thai authorities and the Australian authorities.

Why are these Australian children being detained? They don’t have Covid-19 and they need to get out of quarantine to get back to Australia on the 5th of June.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Government outlines new rules as massage parlours reopen for business

Maya Taylor

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Government outlines new rules as massage parlours reopen for business | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Alan Caishan on Unsplash

From today, you can once more enjoy a Thai massage, but there are strict conditions attached to the reopening of massage facilities. Suffice to say, it won’t be the same as the massage you had in the past. As the country enters phase 3 of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, massage parlours are required to register on the Department of Health Service Support website, where they must complete an online self-assessment certificate.

They are also required to keep the department up to date by way of weekly reports on their safety and hygiene protocols. All massage parlours have been issued with a set of rules for both staff and customers. Facilities found to be breaching the conditions of operation will be shut down temporarily. Here are the rules for the “new normal” massage experience…

Guidelines for massage parlours

• Use one entrance only, with space of at least one metre between the reception desk and customers when recording personal details
• Shop operators must have a temperature screening point for both employees and customers
• Shops must provide cloth masks, medical masks, and hand sanitiser containing 70% alcohol
• Everyone in the shop must wear a mask and keep clean
• Follow good health practices issued by the Public Health Ministry
• Massage chairs must be placed at least 1.5 metres apart
• Only one customer per room, but in case of a large room, a folding door or curtain can be installed to separate the room into individual areas
• Provide safe payment options such as online payment
• Prepare and provide clean clothing to customers. When massage is over, the clothing must be removed and cleaned
• Prepare a proper ventilation system
• Employees must change into uniform before providing service
• During service, talk to customers only when necessary

Guidelines for customers…

• Wear a mask throughout the service
• Cooperate for temperature screening and provide true information about personal details
• Clean hands both before and after the service
• Follow the shop’s advice

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

With all patients recovered, Phuket closes its Covid-19 field hospital

Jack Burton

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With all patients recovered, Phuket closes its Covid-19 field hospital | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Phuket News

So long, farewell. Phuket, which has had the highest number of Covid-19 infections per capita in Thailand, is closing its first “field hospital” after discharging its final patients. The temporary hospital is closing down, hopefully for good, and will be “put on standby,” as the last patients have recovered, the island’s governor announced yesterday.

The building was actually the unfinished new provincial HQ for the local Phuket government. The building’s completion has been stalled for years with uncompleted contracts and delays. But it has served an important purpose in housing the island’s Covid-19 patients and keeping them away from the main hospitals.

“Today is the day that Phuket has zero Covid-19 patients. I would like to thank all officials and Phuket residents for their efforts and cooperation to make our province finally Covid-19-free. Our next job is to rehabilitate the province’s economy, especially the tourism industry, which has been severely affected by the outbreak.”

The governor was joined at the closing ceremony by representatives from the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket Office, the Phuket Chamber of Commerce and the Phuket Federation of Industries to hand out 600 survival kits to local people affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

Phuket’s first field hospital was established in March with 104 beds in a two-storey building. It was staffed with medical professionals from 5 hospitals throughout the province. Some 123 Covid-19 patients were treated at the hospital and all have fully recovered and been discharged. None has tested positive again.

The second field hospital is also on standby, having released its last patient on May 15.

Since the outbreak started, Phuket has reported 227 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Of these, 224 patients recovered and 3 died.

With all patients recovered, Phuket closes its Covid-19 field hospital | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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