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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

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

The Thaiger

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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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand Covid-19 figures (May 29)

Anukul

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Thailand Covid-19 figures (May 29) | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Pattayamail.com

The spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, Dr Taweesilp has reported 11 new cases of Covid-19 virus in Thailand, same as yesterday. Of the number, all were reported as imported cases coming from Kuwait.

All Thai nationals returning from overseas are placed into a mandatory 14 day state quarantine with no exposure to the general public. For the 4th day in a row, Thailand has announced zero locally transmitted cases.

Dr Taweesilp, says…

“The returnees were of working age and were either asymptomatic or only had mild symptoms.”

“Many people may feel comfortable because there are no new locally infected cases. This goes along with the general feeling as we are further easing the lockdown.”

The total number of local Covid-19 cases is now 3,076. Of these, 2,945 (96%) had made a full recovery while 74 remains in hospitals.

The accumulated death toll in Thailand from Covid-19 is 57.

“Thailand ranked 77th in the number of Covid-19 cases worldwide; the US, Brazil and Russia were in the top rank.”

Chonburi province has gone 35 days without a single new confirmed case of the virus. Pattaya City is at 45 days without a single new confirmed case.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

No new Covid-19 cases in 65 provinces for a month

Jack Burton

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No new Covid-19 cases in 65 provinces for a month | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand Medical News

The Covid-19 situation in Thailand is improving: the Ministry of Public Health announced yesterday that 65 of Thailand’s 76 provinces have reported no new cases for a full month. But it says the situation is “still not stable enough”, and the government continues to screen people returning from abroad and is proactively testing suspected cases.

The deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control says that the number of cases in Thailand is relatively low and is divided into 2 main groups: Thai nationals returning from abroad and people who had close contact with previous cases. Returnees are placed in mandatory 14 day quarantine to see if they develop symptoms.

But academics have pointed out that there may still be some people infected with the virus without showing symptoms in areas around the country. They have not been tested and could potentially infect others. Therefore, they say, the Ministry of Public Health needs to stay proactive in maintaining a wide ranging testing program. (Thailand has not had a “wide ranging testing program”. Thailand has tested 5,380 people per 1 million population. In comparison, Singapore has tested 57,250 people per 1 million population.)

The Thai ministry’s caution shows an extreme risk-aversion when compared to many other countries that are now opening up despite much higher rates of transmission, but with certain precautions and restrictions in place.

An analysis of the numbers of infections in different parts of Thailand shows 10 provinces have had no cases at all. However, 42 provinces have a fatality rate of 0.1 to 1%, 18 provinces have a rate of 1.1 to 5%, 2 provinces have 5.1 to 10% and 5 provinces have a death rate higher than 10%.

In the past month, 65 provinces reported no new cases. Although the figures are low, it’s is possible that some people are asymptomatic, particularly in greater Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Chonburi and the 4 southern border provinces.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Economy

PM assures MPs that government knows how to handle trillion baht loan

Maya Taylor

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PM assures MPs that government knows how to handle trillion baht loan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.physiciansweekly.com

“Don’t worry, we got this…”

Following the Finance Ministry’s securing of a trillion baht loan, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke up to address concerns over how the funds will be administered. Answering questions raised by opposition parties, the PM said the government has clear rules in place on how the funds will be distributed, with the priority being small and medium sized businesses that have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

He was speaking as Parliament debated the 3 decrees enacted in the wake of the pandemic, the first of which was to allow for the borrowing of a trillion baht. The PM promises full transparency in how the funds are used, saying the loan has been taken out to prevent small businesses from going bust, which would lead to a further significant rise in unemployment.

A second decree is in place to enable small businesses and start-ups to take advantage of soft loans to survive the huge toll the virus has taken on the economy. Thai PBS World reports the Finance Minister as saying such businesses will receive help with their applications if they are unaccustomed to securing credit from banks.

While the first decree enabled the government to secure a trillion baht loan, the Bank of Thailand says neither the soft loan decree nor an additional bond stabilisation decree will mean more debt for the country. Rather the central bank’s existing funds will be used to help the bond market and to give businesses the lifeline they need in the current exceptional circumstances.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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