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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

With more than 20,000 deaths, US surpasses Italy’s total of deceased coronavirus patients

Jack Burton

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With more than 20,000 deaths, US surpasses Italy’s total of deceased coronavirus patients | Thaiger
PHOTO: The Times of Israel

Deaths from the Covid-19 coronavirus in the US topped 20,000 yesterday (20,577 to be precise), surpassing Italy, previously the world’s hardest-hit country. It was a grim start to the Easter holiday weekend on which US President Donald Trump had earlier hoped to “reopen the country”. With the report of 1,863 new deaths nationally yesterday, the US has reached two grim milestones – all 50 states are now in a state of emergency, and the US outbreak is the deadliest in the world.

Italy has still lost more people per capita: with a population of 60 million, roughly 31 of every 100,000 people there have been killed by the virus. In the US that ratio is 5. If the US death toll were to match the ratio in Italy, more than 100,000 Americans would die.

But after two months of extreme social distancing and devastating losses, Italy’s crisis seems to be gradually subsiding; the daily number of new cases has fallen by almost half since the peak in late March. The US is still on an upward trajectory of its pandemic “curve,” with the number of new cases increasing nearly every day.

Estimates on how many people will end up dying in the US have fluctuated in recent weeks as new data continues to pour in from various attempts at mathematical modelling. A leading projection model from the University of Washington has forecast about 60,000 deaths, far fewer than the 100,000 to 240,000 deaths that were projected in a White House press release less than 2 weeks ago. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had this to say…

“The real data are telling us that it is highly likely that we’re having a definite positive effect by these mitigation things that we’re doing, this physical separation, so I believe we are gonna see a downturn in that. And it looks more like the 60,000 than the 100,000 to 200,000.”

As Americans desperately seek assurance that the country has a path out of its crisis, the official response has been fractured and uncertain.

In his daily briefings and private calls with officials, US President Trump has sought a strategy for resuming business activity by the end of April. But leaders in states with some of the biggest outbreaks caution against actions that they say could lead to another spike in cases and prolonging the crisis.

In an interview on Friday night, Fauci said he hoped the nation would find a “real degree of normality” by November.

The US is still stepping up its response to the virus, albeit delayed by politics and states vs federal frictions. The Pentagon announced yesterday it will invest 133 million dollars to increase domestic production of N95 masks needed by health-care workers on the front lines of fighting the virus.

Across the country, Americans braced for the unthinkable: empty churches, silent ballparks, students struggling to learn over a Zoom connection, families without food, doctors desperate for protective equipment and an ever-growing list of the dead.

In an interview, Rev Timothy Cole, a priest at Christ Church in Washington’s Georgetown district, who was the district’s first known Covid-19 patient, said this moment “feels more like the darkness of Good Friday, when Christians believe Jesus died on the cross, than the rebirth celebrated by Easter Sunday.”

SOURCES: USA Today

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Shortage of hospital beds for Covid-19 patients worrisome

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Shortage of hospital beds for Covid-19 patients worrisome | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Empty beds for Covid-19 patients are getting harder to find.

A shortage of hospital beds for Covid-19 patients is spreading throughout Thailand, as the Coronavirus surges through the country, and people are getting desperate to secure a bed for their loved ones. Even celebrities are posting on social media in an attempt to get a space in the rapidly filling hospitals. Government officials say there are enough beds for everyone with Covid-19 but not all beds are in luxury facilities. The National Health Security Office says a 700-person waiting list exists for Covid-19 infected patients to get a hospital bed. The NHSO performs daily check-ups and advice anyone needing help to call 1330 or the Department of Medical Services at 1668.

The president of the Private Hospital Association asserts that the shortage is not as dire as it seems, and a lot of the problem stems from how private hospitals are handling bed allocation. He claims that private hospitals didn’t make proper arrangements and are not referring Covid-19 infected patients out of their medical network in order to charge for treatment even though the government is paying for Covid-19 expenses.

Part of the problem is that hospitals are required to admit all patients as soon as they test positively for Coronavirus to avoid spreading. As a result, some private hospitals have stopped testing for Covid-19 when they don’t have beds to accommodate them.

25,000 extra beds have been requested by the government to beef up hospital capacity along with the quick building of makeshift field hospitals. The Health Minister encourages hospitals to partner with hotels in the recently launched “hospitel” program to handle patients and free up ICU beds for more severe Covid-19 infections.

The Ministry of Public Health is considering self-treatment at home for patients who live alone when hospitals hit capacity. The Health Minister requested Friday a self-care guidebook be created by the Department of Medical Services designed for stay-at-home Covid-19 patients who may need to treat themselves. Asymptomatic patients will be the most likely to be assigned to self-care at home if they live alone and will not spread the virus.

The National Institute for Emergency Medicine and Erawan Medical Centre Bangkok of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration are working to create more beds and asking people to stay calm. They say Covid-19 beds are still available in Bangkok though numbers are limited. As of now, 9,183 beds exist in total with 4,244 still available, including new beds added to Bang Khun Thian Geriatric Hospital and field hospitals at Bangkok Arena and Chalerm Phrakiat Bang Bon Stadium.

In the meantime, even celebrities have found themselves scrambling to find hospital beds for Covid-19 infected friends and family. Star Chiang Mai United footballer Boworn Tapla contracted Covid-19 on April 12 and then later discovered his wife and 2 daughters also were infected. After being placed in a long queue by the hospital that diagnosed them, Boworn posted a plea for help on Instagram. After 4 days, they finally found beds for his family at Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health in Bangkok, and yesterday Chiang Mai United management and the chairman of Chiang Mai provincial administrative organisation.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Siam Bioscience says July due date of locally-produced AstraZeneca vaccine still feasible

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Siam Bioscience says July due date of locally-produced AstraZeneca vaccine still feasible | Thaiger

Siam Bioscience Co. says the July due date for delivering its locally-produced Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccines is still feasible. The company is currently sending vaccine samples to laboratories in Europe and the US for quality inspections. If they are approved, then the samples will be sent to AstraZeneca for final inspections. After that, the vaccines will be registered with Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration to be greenlighted for mass production. Siam Bioscience says it is capable of producing the vaccines domestically at almost the same rate as Australian and South Korean manufacturers as it is using the same technology from AstraZeneca.

The deputy government spokeswoman says that between 6-10 million doses of the vaccine will be ready to be administered in June. The corporate communication director of Siam Bioscience, Nualphan Lamsam, says the company is working as fast as it can.

“All parties concerned are working against time to produce the vaccine as fast as possible and make it an alternative to help save lives.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told Thailand’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration that the company has improved the vaccine’s efficacy against the Brazilian and South African strains of the coronavirus. But, there is no word yet on whether the company is also planning to improve the vaccine’s efficacy against the UK virus variant, known as B117. In Thailand, 608,521 people have now received at least their first dose of Covid vaccine.

Today, Thailand has reported the highest ever daily amount of new infections at 1,767. The spokesperson for the CCSA also reported that there were also 128 people in serious condition, with 28 people on ventilators. The third wave of Covid-19 has caused concern amongst authorities after announcing plans to reopen Phuket in July. The plan was to allow those foreign tourists, who are fully vaccinated, to enter the tourist island without needing to undergo a quarantine.

Thailand’s Sports and Tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is acknowledging that Phuket’s ‘Sandbox’ model will need “a major revamp.” He says he plans to meet with “all related agencies” this week. Apart from the latest national re-surge in new infections, Phuket has been unable to get its hands on sufficient vaccines to meed its deadline of 70% of the island vaccinated by July 1. Thailand’s limited supplies of the vaccine – including some 930,000 doses designated for Phuket – are being rerouted to other provinces as the government prioritises the limited supply.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 1,767 new infections for Sunday, Bangkok and Chon Buri lead the way

Tim Newton

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Covid UPDATE: 1,767 new infections for Sunday, Bangkok and Chon Buri lead the way | Thaiger

1,767 new Covid infections were reported this morning, the highest ever daily report of new cases in Thailand. The spokesperson for the CCSA also reported that there were also 128 people in serious condition, with 28 people on ventilators.

608,521 people have now received at least their first dose of Covid vaccine.

Bangkok continues to lead the way in the new infections although the clusters are popping up right around the country now. Bangkok reported 347 new infections, Chon Buri with 229, Chiang Mai with 164, Nonthaburi, just north and west of Bangkok, 100, Prachuap Khiri Khan 66 and Samut Prakan 64. Locally, Phuket officials announced an additional 26 cases today, taking the tall in this latest cluster to 156 infections.

Only 2 cases today were imported, everyone else was living in Thailand.

The total number of infections in Thailand has now reached 42,352 people. There has been 2 additional deaths reported in the past 24 hours, taking that total to 101 dead from Covid-related disease. 13,569 people remain in state-monitored care.

Readers should also realise that the local provincial health officials report daily as well. Those totals don’t usually find their way into the national daily tally until the next day.

Some provinces are adding their own restrictions, including demanding negative Covid tests if you’ve arrived from a red zone – Krabi and Trat have announced this already. The only exceptions are if you’ve had full doses of Covid vaccine or have just come from quarantine. Chiang Rai has announced a ‘request’ that citizens stay at home for the next 14 days.

In Phuket, the closure of entertainment venues has been further extended to the start of May.

Expect more provinces to make similar announcements in the next few days.

If you are travelling, or planning to travel, it would be recommended to pre-load the Mor Chana app on your phones and fill out the information. This will help avoid some delays as you arrive in new provinces.

Covid UPDATE: 1,767 new infections for Sunday, Bangkok and Chon Buri lead the way | News by Thaiger

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