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WHO and intelligence community awaiting evidence from US President Trump about “Wuhan lab” claims

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WHO and intelligence community awaiting evidence from US President Trump about “Wuhan lab” claims | The Thaiger
SCREENGRAB: ABC TV
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The World Health Organisation says they’re awaiting evidence to support “speculative” claims by the US President and Secretary of State that the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab in Wuhan.

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’.

The WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan says they hope the US leadership team can release evidence of their claims.

“We have not received any data or specific evidence from the United States government relating to the purported origin of the virus. So from our perspective, this remains speculative.”

And today, Australian intelligence agencies have also questioned evidence trumpeted by US officials supposedly linking the coronavirus to a Wuhan laboratory as concerns within the government grow that the push will derail efforts to eliminate dangerous wildlife wet markets.

Australian PM Scott Morrison said last Friday the Australian government “did not have strong evidence linking the Wuhan lab to the virus”.

Scientists generally 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 US President Donald Trump, increasingly ramping up the narrative that China mishandled the first outbreak, claims to have proof it started in a Wuhan laboratory. His Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then doubled down on the comments in a TV interview on Sunday (below) claiming that he had “enormous evidence” to “back up that claim”.

Asked by a reporter last week… “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?”

President Trump replied… “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.”

The US President’s comments forced the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to make a rare public statement that… “it concurs with the wide scientific consensus regarding Covid-19’s natural origins. It was the first response from US intelligence debunking conspiracy theories that the virus is a biological weapon.

WHO’s Ryan stressed that this was a very important piece of public health information for future control.

“Like any evidence-based organisation, we would be very willing to receive any information that purports to the origin of the virus.”

“If that data and evidence is available, then it will be for the US government to decide whether and when it can be shared, but it is difficult for the WHO to operate in an information vacuum in that regard.”

“We need to understand more about that natural origin, and particularly about intermediate hosts.”

“Science needs to be at the centre. If we have a science-based investigation and a science-based enquiry as to what the origin species and the intermediate species are, then that will benefit everybody on the planet.”

The UN-based health agency, which is also facing scathing criticism from President Trump over accusations it initially downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak to shield China, has repeated that the virus clearly appears to have originated naturally from an animal source.

Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO medical spokesperson, has stressed that there were some 15,000 full genome sequences of the novel coronavirus available.

“From all of the evidence that we have seen… this virus is of natural origin.”

Mr. Pompeo’s interview on the US ABC TV network on Sunday (discussion about China starts at 2.40).

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Disease control measures ease up in Samut Sakhon

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Disease control measures ease up in Samut Sakhon | The Thaiger
PHOTO: NNT

Disease control restrictions are easing up in Samut Sakhon. The coastal fishing province that has been under “maximum control” since last month’s Covid-19 outbreak at a major seafood market in the province’s Mahachai area.

Salons and barber shops are now allowed to open from 6am to 9pm in all districts of Samut Sakhon, but services are limited to hair cutting, dressing, and washing. Manicures, pedicures and shaving services are still prohibited. Each customer can only stay in the shop for only 2 hours and no queuing is allowed inside the salon or barber shop.

Restaurants and cafes are allowed to open, except for those in some sub districts of Muang District…

  • Thai Sai
  • Mahachai
  • Krok Krak
  • Tha Chalom
  • Nadee
  • Bang Ya Phraek
  • Khok Kham
  • Tha Chin

Restaurants and cafes can offer customers the dine-in services from 6am to 9pm. Takeaway services are allowed after 9pm. Other businesses including sports complexes, playgrounds, educational institutions, boxing gyms, internet cafes, fishing ponds, and cinemas are still closed.

SOURCE: NNT

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Thailand’s PM says he won’t let Thais become vaccine “guinea pigs”

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Thailand’s PM says he won’t let Thais become vaccine “guinea pigs” | The Thaiger

Thailand’s PM is saying he won’t let Thai people become vaccine “guinea pigs” in his Facebook post today as he points to reports of serious negative side effects that some people have suffered after getting jabbed with the Covid-19 vaccine. Instead, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says he will wait for more information from the experts about whether such side effects were attributed to the vaccine solely, or other factors.

“For Thai people, I decided not to take the risk and will not rush to inoculate with vaccines which have not been fully tested and will not let Thai people become guinea pigs.”

He says the National Vaccine Committee will advise the government and closely supervise the use of Covid-19 vaccines in the country once they are rolled out. As the vaccines are not yet available, he reiterated the importance of taking precautions such as wearing face masks when leaving home, practising social distancing and abstaining from gatherings, particularly political ones.

The government has reported 374 new cases of Covid-19 in the kingdom today, with all but 10 being locally-transmitted. Now, the total has risen to 12,000 cases since the pandemic began.

A government spokesman is also saying that PM Prayut is worried about people’s health as the weather has taken a turn for the cold. He also affirmed the importance of imposing measures under the Emergency Decree and Thailand’s Communicable Disease Act in order to help curb the recent Covid second wave. He is also reminding the public to download the Thai Chana and Mor Chana apps.

Thailand has ordered 60 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from a variety of sources, with the first shipment of 200,000 doses to arrive in February. Those vaccines are from China’s Sinovac Biotech. In March, another 800,000 doses are scheduled to arrive and another million by April.

The government has also pre-ordered 26 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, using vaccine technology transfer to allow local production by Thailand’s local company, Siam Bio Science.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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374 new cases today – Covid update

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374 new cases today – Covid update | The Thaiger

New case numbers have jumped alarmingly again today, even though the growth curve was starting to flatten a bit this week. Thailand is reporting 374 new cases of Covid-19today over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to over 12,000 infections since the pandemic began. Only 10 of those cases were non-local infections as they were found in state quarantine. 43 cases were found in the public and 321 cases were found within the migrant worker areas. 10 cases were found in Bangkok, and 24 cases were found in Samut Sakhon, where the initial cluster that kicked off the second wave began.

61 provinces are now reporting Covid cases with Patthalung province being the latest. Dr. Thaweesin Visanuyothin, from the CCSA, says the situation in surrounding countries is also concerning as he fears they may have a “knock-on” effect.

Samut Sakhon, Rayong, and Chon Buri provinces are still under almost full lockdowns due to the amount of cases found in migrant workers and from people frequenting illegal gambling dens. Thaweesin says entertainment venues are exposing the country to risks, as they are still open past curfew hours. He is urging the public to cooperate with the government in order to help curb further transmissions of the virus.

PM Prayut is also requesting people to stop holding public gatherings, (code for anti-government protests), in order to help prevent the spread of the virus. A spokesman says Prayut is “concerned” for the public’s health after recent weather has seen a drop in temperatures, only adding to the worries of contracting the coronavirus. Prayut has also asked the public to be careful when trying to stay warm, as starting bonfires could be dangerous.

The cold pass coming from China is expected to blanket Thailand starting today and lasting through January 19, causing a drop in temperatures of up to 8 degrees Celsius in northern areas.

The government spokesman also reiterated the need for the emergency decree to be enforced as well as the measures under Thailand’s Communicable Disease Act in order to help contain the virus. For their part, protest spokespersons have said they are delaying any new protests for the time being.

SOURCE: Thai Enquirer

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