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What’s behind Hong Kong’s third wave of Covid-19 infections?

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What’s behind Hong Kong’s third wave of Covid-19 infections? | Thaiger

Hong Kong has had its ups and downs throughout the early phases of the coronavirus pandemic but its reaction was considered a text book response as it contained the virus quickly. But then there was a smaller 2nd wave, and now a 3rd.

Despite being a part of China and sharing a border with the mainland to the north, Hong Kong kept its infection numbers low and was able to avoid overly draconian lockdowns when compared to other parts of China. Now the Hong Kong government officials are warning hospitals that they could face collapse if it doesn’t stem the growing infections quickly, and it’s just had a record high number of new infections in a day.

What's behind Hong Kong's third wave of Covid-19 infections? | News by Thaiger What's behind Hong Kong's third wave of Covid-19 infections? | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: worldometers.info

Hong Kong had its first Covid-19 cases in the last week of January but infection numbers remained relatively low and the spread was controlled quite quickly. Hong Kong had seen it before with that other coronavirus infection, SARS. Between 2002-2004 the world had a short Coronavirus preview. In Hong Kong 1,755 people were infected, 299 died and the virus had a 17% fatality rate.

In March this year Hong Kong had a 2nd wave of Covid-19 infections after overseas students and residents started returning to the territory, leading to an imported spike of new infections.

Hong Kong banned all non-residents from entering from overseas, and everyone who returned was required to undergo a Covid-19 test and mandatory 14 day quarantine. Electronic bracelets were put on new arrivals to track their movements and and make sure they stayed at home. Masks were mandatory and social distancing measures were rigorously applied. It worked and the infection rate quickly dropped.

So what has brought on this 3rd wave of infections? Local health officials believe there are 2 key flaws in the system.

First, many returnees opted to quarantine for 14 days at home – an arrangement that’s common in many countries including the UK – rather than in quarantine camps. But other people in the home are not under any form of restriction, and will still be coming and going.

Then there was the government’s decision to exempt several groups of people from testing and quarantine when they came to Hong Kong. They exempted about 200,000 people, including people arriving from the sea, aircrews and executives of companies listed on the HK stock exchange, from quarantine. At the time the government said the exceptions were needed to ensure “normal daily operations continued” in Hong Kong, or because their “travel was necessary to the city’s economic development”.

Epidemiologist Dr. Joseph Tsang says the exemptions were a significant loophole that increased the risk of infection. The government initially claimed the quarantine exemptions were not to blame, but later admitted there was evidence that the exemptions were, indeed, behind the latest 3rd wave of infections.

Then there was the case, earlier this week, when a foreign pilot was reportedly spotted sightseeing around Hong Kong while waiting for is Covid-19 test results.

A professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong, Benjamin Cowling, says Hong Kong’s experience with quarantine problems could also happen in other countries.

“In the UK, you also have a 14 day quarantine at home, so you would have the same potential issue with leakage.”

“In New Zealand and Australia they have a mandatory hotel quarantine policy, which is a good concept… although there’s the issue of who pays for it.”

“Like Hong Kong, the UK also exempts certain travellers from border rules, including drivers of goods vehicles, seafarers and aircrew.”

Thailand also had a “scare’ when an Egyptian soldier slipped through the quarantine system from an “exemption” allowed by the Thai government. He was found to be Covid-19 positive after leaving the country, but not before wandering around Rayong shopping centres during his brief stay in the country.

There was also the 9 year old daughter of a diplomat who was found to be infected when her family was staying in a condo in downtown Bangkok. Again, the family had been exempted as her father was a diplomat.

Hong Kong had 149 cases yesterday, the most ever in a 24 hour period. In total the SEZ has registered a total of 3,152 Covid-19 cases and 25 deaths.

SOURCE: BBC | Reuters | worldometers.info

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Northern Thai provinces starting Covid restrictions as 3rd wave spreads

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Northern Thai provinces starting Covid restrictions as 3rd wave spreads | Thaiger
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Thailand’s northern provinces are starting to impose self-quarantines or travel restrictions to combat the recent Covid-19 outbreak that has spread quickly throughout northern Thailand. Phichit and Lampang provinces are the latest in northern Thailand to impose a variety of covid-19 restrictions on people entering.

A Thailand Interior Ministry unnamed source told Chiang Rai Times that the longer list emphasises the seriousness of the 3rd wave of the coronavirus. The new wave originated in nightlife venues in Bangkok and has spread to 74 provinces as of yesterday. Health inspectors believe the new and more contagious UK strain of Covid-19, named B117, arrived in Thailand from Cambodia through migrants.

But as the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has largely placed restrictions in the hands of each provincial government, many are confused about what guidelines they must follow upon entering certain provinces. Northern Thailand’s Lampang province, for example, orders visitors from Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom and Chiang Mai to report immediately to local health authorities or officials, but it does not require them to undergo quarantine for 2 weeks if test results are negative.

Visitors are advised to check updated information at moicovid.com as the rules are different in each province. So far, 42 provinces have imposed self-quarantine on arrivals to fight the 3rd wave. Phichit, Lampang and Ubon Ratchathani were the latest to join 39 other provinces imposing a variety of restrictions on people entering their provinces.

Visitors to the website posted multiple questions, mostly on whether they needed to be quarantined.

Provinces that impose self-quarantine or other requirements on travellers:

NORTH

  • Chiang Mai
  • Kamphaeng Phet
  • Lampang
  • Lamphun
  • Nan
  • Phayao
  • Phetchabun
  • Phichit
  • Phitsanulok
  • Phrae
  • Tak
  • Uttaradit

NORTHEAST

  • Amnat Charoen
  • Bung Kan
  • Buri Ram
  • Chaiyaphum
  • Khon Kaen
  • Maha Sarakham
  • Mukdahan
  • Nakhon Phanom
  • Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Nong Bua Lam Phu
  • Nong Khai
  • Sakon Nakhon
  • Ubon Ratchathani
  • Udon Thani
  • Yasothon

CENTAL AND EAST

  • Chai Nat
  • Lop Buri
  • Nakhon Sawan
  • Sa Kaeo
  • Saraburi
  • Sing Buri
  • Uthai Thani

SOUTH

  • Chumphon
  • Narathiwat
  • Pattani
  • Phangnga
  • Ranong
  • Satun
  • Songkhla
  • Trang

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Covid UPDATE: Wednesday’s new infections rise to 1,335 people, 36 people in “serious condition”

Tim Newton

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Covid UPDATE: Wednesday’s new infections rise to 1,335 people, 36 people in “serious condition” | Thaiger

Thailand’s CCSA has announced 1,335 new infections today, after a slight dip in the 10 day surge yesterday. 1,326 of those new infections are local, not imported, and mostly from Bangkok. Today’s tally takes the national total to 35,910 since January 2020 when the first case outside China was detected in Thailand on January 13.

The new infections have mostly emerged in Bangkok with 351 cases. Surrounding provinces report an additional 115 infections today. In other provinces, 877 people.

It’s also been reported today that 36 people are currently in a serious condition and 9 people are on ventilators. Here’s the number of cases reported each day since the start of April…

April 1 – 26 infections

April 2 – 58 infections

April 3 – 84 infections

April 4 – 96 infections

April 5 – 194 infections

April 6 – 250 infections

April 7 – 334 infections

April 8 – 405 infections

April 9 – 559 infections

April 10 – 789 infections

April 11 – 967 infections

April 12 – 985 infections

April 13 – 965 infections

April 14 – 1,335 infections

Meanwhile, Prachuap Khiri Khan officials have ordered the closure of “high risk venues” such as pubs, bars, water parks, children’s playgrounds, gyms, cinemas, game shops. The Governor says restaurants can open “but no alcohol can be served”. This includes the seaside town of Hua Hin.

In Krabi there is now a total of 11 infections, 6 new ones yesterday.

In Chon Buri, which includes Pattaya, there were 99 new confirmed infections of Covid today … a similar number to the past few days.

Total number of infections being treated in provinces…

• Bangkok: 1,689
• Chiang Mai: 880
• Chonburi: 594
• Samut Prakan: 416
• Narathiwat: 304
• Prachuap Khiri Khan: 265
• Samut Sakhon: 166
• Pathum Thani: 124
• Sa Kaeo 105
Covid UPDATE: Wednesday's new infections rise to 1,335 people, 36 people in 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand approves 8 vaccines for foreign travellers seeking shortened quarantine

Maya Taylor

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Thailand approves 8 vaccines for foreign travellers seeking shortened quarantine | Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr / Marco Verch

Thailand has approved a total of 8 Covid-19 jabs for vaccinated tourists hoping to avail of reduced quarantine on arrival in the Kingdom. Despite a third wave of infections gripping the country, officials are pinning their hopes on the return of international visitors in order to revive the decimated tourism sector. In 2019, approximately 40 million foreign visitors to Thailand contributed over 60 billion US dollars in revenue.

The 8 approved vaccines are the Chinese Sinovac and Sinopharm jabs, along with AstraZeneca, SK Bioscience, Pfizer-BioNTech SE, Serum Institute of India, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna. However, in a move likely to further complicate already complex arrangements, people intending to visit Thailand will need to be vaccinated no less than 14 days before travel.

Vaccinated tourists will be required to upload their certificates of vaccination on the Foreign Ministry’s website before arrival, after which they can avail of a reduced quarantine period of 7 days. Unvaccinated arrivals will be subject to 10-day quarantine, while arrivals from several countries, including South Africa, will have to endure 14-day quarantine.

Foreign visitors will also require a certificate of entry, a valid visa, adequate health insurance and a negative Covid-19 test result.

Tourism officials in Thailand are desperately hoping foreign visitors will still want to enjoy the country’s beaches, temples, culture, and food, and are pinning everything on a reduction in mandatory quarantine. The quarantine requirement is widely seen as the biggest obstacle for foreign visitors. Prior to the latest outbreak, the southern island of Phuket was hoping to waive quarantine entirely for vaccinated arrivals from July. It remains to be seen if this will still go ahead.

SOURCE: Travel Daily

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