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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Your democracy is killing you and how China suppressed Covid-19

Tim Newton

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Your democracy is killing you and how China suppressed Covid-19 | The Thaiger
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OPINION

On January 25, 2020 the Chinese government started locking down around 930 million citizens over the following few weeks, starting with the city centres of Hubei province, the probable ground zero of the outbreak, and spreading outwards. Most of these Chinese citizens are still quarantined in their homes.

About two weeks later, in the second week of February, the first Covid-19 cases were announced in Italy. A month later the southern European country has nearly 50,000 cases and a death rate of around 8.5%. Their hospitals are completely overwhelmed.

The rest of Europe hasn’t been immune either with cases springing up in all corners of the continent, most notably in Spain, German, France and Switzerland. Around 6,000 people have now died around Europe, just a month after the first cases became apparent.

Across the pond, in the land of the free, the elected President told Americans that they were ready if any cases were identified. On February 15 the first case was identified in the US and the President assured US citizens that everything “was under control”. Now, a month later the US has an acute escalation of cases, pushing through 20,000 cases by late March 21.

Elsewhere in the world there are few corners where cases aren’t now rising quickly. The rise of Covid-19 is real and in its first growth phase. And just wait until the virus takes hold in the African and South American continents. In reality, this is just the beginning and we’ve got a long way to go.

More is known about the Covid-19 coronavirus now, and there’s still a lot more to learn. We do know it has a much higher death rate than the flu, but less than the SARS coronavirus back in 2002/2003.

Viruses with a high death rate usually peter out reasonably quickly as they kill their hosts before they are able to pass it on. Victims appear with symptoms quickly, are identified and isolated, taking them out of harms way.

Viruses, like the many seasonal flus, are highly contagious but only have a death rate of around 0.1%. Covid-19 is in a sweet spot in the middle where it’s quite contagious, but not as contagious as the flu, but has a death rate between 10-20 times higher than the seasonal flu. The other insidious characteristic of Covid-19 is that its carriers can walk around, highly contagious, for days, maybe up to 14 days, before symptoms kick in. By that time it’s too late.

These pandemics strike every ten years or so. Covid-19 won’t be the last virus to put the world on hold as it struggles to contain outbreaks.

Cut to Saturday, March 21 and only 41 new cases were identified in China in the past 24 hours. So China is on top of the coronavirus outbreak? Far from it. On January 25 a human experiment was started, the likes of which had never been launched on a population. The Chinese Government, an authoritarian dictatorship, locked down entire cities and instructed people that they MUST go home and stay home. And that’s that. And the home lockdowns were enforced by soldiers with guns.

But six weeks later the daily spikes in new cases did level off, then fall. The draconian action did curb the spread of the disease. But it won’t stop it, there will be another wave at some point. For now, the virus has been suppressed by removing its carriers out of the system. But it hasn’t been killed.

In the west elected governments have rolled out their lockdowns and closures in a much more staged fashion, respecting the liberties of their citizens. The slower response has resulted in a quick rise in cases.

The main game in the west has now become social distancing, a method recommended by epidemiologists to level off the spike in new infections, flattening the curve. The method does not stop the eventual spread of the virus, but it does slow it down. By slowing down the infection rate it takes the initial pressure off country’s health systems, pushes new case further down the line. Even better it allows people who contract the disease later the opportunity of better treatments and, maybe, even a vaccine in the next few years.

Put more frankly, there may be 50,000 people dying in the US over the next year as a result of the Covid-19 contagion. What health authorities are trying to avoid are 50,000 patients crowding hospitals all at once. Social distancing is a good method to slow down the spread of the virus. Forcibly locking people in their homes is even more efficient. (The figures are not real estimates, just an example)

China’s swift and drastic action, quite early in the outbreak’s evolution, has now given Chinese authorities some breathing space to rally for the probable second wave of infections. Their roll-out of mandatory home detentions did slow down, and suppress, the spread of the virus in China. It has been effective.

The virus likely started in a wet market somewhere in Wuhan, China. But it could have started in any wet market in the world. The virus doesn’t have a nationality, the virus just does what it’s told to do by its RNA coding – find a host and multiply.

But China’s swift response gave the world nearly two months of breathing space. In that time western governments could have become much better prepared for what was inevitable. They didn’t. The impact on budgets in free democracies, and the unpopular measures that would have to be taken, are more difficult to initiate where consensus and negotiation take precedence.

The take-home from our early experience of the Covid-19 outbreak is that the virus doesn’t care about how you elect, or don’t elect, your leaders. The only way to control or cope with a viral outbreak, on this scale, is swift, direct and completely disruptive actions. And none of that is likely to attract votes.

This commentary includes thoughts from Nicholas Chrstakis, a physician, sociologist and author, and Michael Osterholm, and internationally recognised epidemiologist.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand coronavirus cases rise to 1771, two more deaths

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thailand coronavirus cases rise to 1771, two more deaths | The Thaiger

Thailand’s now has 1771 Covid-19 coronavirus cases, with 120 new cases confirmed over the last 24 hours and 2 more patients dying.The government’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration made the announcement this morning (April 1). The cases are divided into three groups…

The first group of 51 are connected to cluster cases. One person joins the boxing match cluster,” 11 had worked at or visited entertainment venues, one had attended a religious ceremony in Malaysia, and 38 had had close contact with other confirmed cases.

The second group is made up 39 people, of whom 23 recently returned from overseas (6 Thais and 2 foreigners from travelling, and 16 who attended a religious ceremony in Indonesia). 14 were working in crowded areas or had close contact with foreigners, and one medical staff.

The path of infection for third group, of 30, is being investigated.

The deaths were of a 79 year old man who had diabetes and chronic kidney disease, who contracted the virus after attending a wedding in Malaysia, and a 58 year old businessman who recently returned from England.

As of today 1,429 patients are under treatment, of whom 23 are in critical condition. 342 have recovered and been discharged. There has now been 12 deaths in Thailand.

Of the total cases, 1,500 are Thais and 271 foreigners. Globally, there are more than 860,000 confirmed cases and around 42,000 deaths.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket records 7 new cases, total 69 (Tuesday)

The Thaiger

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Phuket records 7 new cases, total 69 (Tuesday) | The Thaiger

The southern island of Phuket, closed to land and sea, and inter-provincial public transport yesterday to stem the spread of the disease, has reported 7 new cases today (Tuesday). It brings the total in Phuket to 69 confirmed cases. Details of today’s new cases are as follows…

Case 63: An Australian man, aged 69, a manager at a Khao Lak hotel. He fell sick on March 24, and 40 contacts are considered at high risk and are being sought by authorities.

Case 64: A 26 year old Thai woman with a history history of visiting the Bangla entertainment area of Phuket’s Patong district. She became sick on March 19, 2 people are considered at high risk.

Case 65: The 37 year old Canadian wife of confirmed Case 54. Both are teachers at an international school in Phuket. She fell sick on March 24, 1 person is considered at high risk.

Case 66: The 2 year old Canadian son of cases 54 and 65. He became sick on March 28, 3 contacts are considered at risk.

Case 67: The 4 year old Canadian daughter of cases 54 and 65, who became sick on March 28. 3 people who had close contact are considered to be at high risk.

Case 68: A Thai woman, aged 27, who is a yoga teacher with a history of close contact with foreigners, she got sick on March 25. 2 contacts are considered to be at high risk.

Case 69: A 34 year old Thai man who works at a Patong hotel. He had close contact with many tourists and became sick on March 27. 21 contacts are at high risk.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

127 new coronavirus cases in Thailand (Tuesday), total 1651, 10 deaths

Greeley Pulitzer

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127 new coronavirus cases in Thailand (Tuesday), total 1651, 10 deaths | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand Medical News

The Department of Disease Control of the Ministry of Public Health today (Tuesday, March 31) confirmed 127 new Covid-19 coronavirus cases in its daily press briefing. 1 more death was reported, bringing the national total to 10 since the outbreak began in January.

The latest number raises the total number of confirmed infections in Thailand to 1,651

The southern island province of Phuket, closed to land and sea, and inter-provincial public transport yesterday to stem the spread of the disease, reported 7 new cases, bringing the total on the island to 69. Details of those cases are as follows…

Case 63: An Australian man, aged 69, a manager at a Khao Lak hotel. He fell sick on March 24, and 40 contacts are considered at high risk and are being sought by authorities.

Case 64: A 26 year old Thai woman with a history history of visiting the Bangla entertainment area of Phuket’s Patong district. She became sick on March 19, 2 people are considered at high risk.

Case 65: The 37 year old Canadian wife of confirmed Case 54. Both are teachers at an international school in Phuket. She fell sick on March 24, 1 person is considered at high risk.

Case 66: The 2 year old Canadian son of cases 54 and 65. He became sick on March 28, 3 contacts are considered at risk.

Case 67: The 4 year old Canadian daughter of cases 54 and 65, who became sick on March 28. 3 people who had close contact are considered to be at high risk.

Case 68: A Thai woman, aged 27, who is a yoga teacher with a history of close contact with foreigners, she got sick on March 25. 2 contacts are considered to be at high risk.

Case 69: A 34 year old Thai man who works at a Patong hotel. He had close contact with many tourists and became sick on March 27. 21 contacts are at high risk.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Newshawk Phuket

 

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