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Coronavirus UPDATE – 31,481 infections world-wide, the search for a cure

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus UPDATE – 31,481 infections world-wide, the search for a cure | The Thaiger
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“…the coronavirus has proven itself to have higher infection rates and lower fatality rates when compared with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)”

As the coronavirus outbreak in China surges past the 30,000 mark, having infected 31,481 people, the global scientific community are racing to find a reliable treatment and vaccine. Most of the people infected with the novel coronavirus – 2019nCov – have not been receiving a treatment specific to the new virus, because there isn’t one.

638 people have now died as a result of the outbreak and 1,563 have fully recovered.

Coronavirus UPDATE - 31,481 infections world-wide, the search for a cure | News by The Thaiger

The race for a cure

Of the handful of coronaviruses known to infect humans, notably SARS and MERS, none has an approved or provable treatment. Up to now the general medical care is mainly to help relieve symptoms. But a small group of repurposed drugs, from targeting Ebola to HIV, are showing potential. Both Chinese and Thai medical authorities claim successful treatments using cocktails of these existing anti-viral drugs.

Stephen Morse, a professor at Columbia University, told Live Science that all sorts of variables, using existing anti-virals are being considered at the moment.

“Developing brand-new drugs requires a huge investment of both time and resources. So while you’re waiting for the new miracle drug, it’s worthwhile looking for existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat new viruses.”

In research published in recent days, infectious disease physicians state that the coronavirus has proven itself to have higher infection rates and lower fatality rates when compared with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), both of which are in the same ‘family’ of coronavirus. A professor of medicine at the University of Michigan says the gathering of accurate statistics during this outbreak is making valid analysis a lot quicker and easier this time around.

“As testing becomes more frequent, the true number of cases and the full spectrum of disease will become more clear.”

“It is likely that the virus was introduced to humans in one instance, by an unknown animal that was carrying a bat coronavirus. In the case of MERS, camels were the carriers of the bat coronavirus. In SARS, it was civet cats.

Whilst the number of cases continues to rise, the rise is mainly within the province of Hubei, specifically, and China, generally. Outside of mainland China the number of cases remain, statistically, small. Japan has reported 86 cases – twenty from a cruise ship currently ‘quarantined’ in Yokohama Bay – 30 in Singapore, 25 in Thailand, and 24 each in Hong Kong and South Korea. Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, Germany, Vietnam, US and Macao all have more than 10 confirmed cases within their borders. Only two people are confirmed to have died outside from coronavirus outside China, one in The Philippines and one in Hong Kong.

At least 40 airlines have now cut an estimated 25,000 flights to and from, or within, China.

Business suffered side-effects

• The Nikkei Asian Review reported that sources have said an Apple plan to ramp up production of AirPods may be delayed as a result of manufacturing shutdowns related to the coronavirus outbreak.

• Sanofi SNY – a French multinational pharmaceutical company with its HQ in Paris – CEO Paul Hudson told investors that the company plans to announce a coronavirus-related initiative in the coming weeks.

• Boston Scientific, which has a $600 million business in China, yesterday told investors to expect a “negative first-half impact” on expectations that Chinese patients will push back elective medical procedures during the outbreak. The device maker now anticipates a “preliminary negative sales impact estimate of $10 million to $40 million.

• Yum China Holdings, which operates fast-food brands like KFC and Pizza Hut in China, has closed 30% of its restaurants. For the restaurants that are still open, same-store sales have declined up to 50% since the Chinese New Year holidays. Yum China Holdings CEO Joey Wat told investors… “The outbreak is causing “significant interruption.”

• The Estée Lauder Companies – an American multinational manufacturer and marketer of prestige skincare, makeup, fragrance and hair care products – announced that their third quarter will be most impacted by the sales decline of luxury beauty products taking place in China as a result of the outbreak.

• Herbert Wun, the owner of Wing Sang Electrical, which makes products such as hair-straighteners and blow-dryers in Guangdong province, southern China, says that many companies would “not have much slack to take this kind of impact”, coming, as it did, on top of the US-China trade war.

• Hyundai, of South Korea, has suspended its car production because of problems with the supply chain of parts from manufacturers in China – an early warning sign of possible extensive disruption ahead.

A few questions

Is there any cure?
No, beyond treating symptoms and waiting for the human immune system to kick in and fight the virus. But progress is being made. Thai doctors claim they have successfully treated two patients with a cocktail of antiviral drugs. A similar treatment has been trialled in China but the results have not been accredited by the World Health Organisation.

Who is the most likely to be infected?
People of any age can be infected with the coronavirus virus, anywhere in the world. But, like other flu, older people, people with pre-existing medical conditions, people with compromised immune systems, are especially vulnerable to severe complications. Children, at this stage, appear to have been largely spared many cases of the virus. Most people will recover from the virus with the rate of death rate floating around 2%, indicating the coronavirus is less deadly than the earlier SARS and MERS coronaviruses.

What are the symptoms?
Coronavirus symptoms will likely appear like a flu, the fever, coughing and trouble breathing. If you show these symptoms and recently went to China, or have been in contact with someone who visited, you should visit a hospital urgently.

How is the virus spread?
The virus is understood to spread person-to-person through droplets floating around the air after an infected patient coughing or sneezing nearby. Scientists say there’s also a possibility the cornavirus can exist in, and spread through, contaminated fecal matter. There’s currently no evidence that the virus is “airborne”, so it doesn’t simply float through the air or across a room.

What can I do to protect myself?
Do what you do during any flu season. Wash your hands often with soap and water, cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough, avoid close contact with people or large gatherings, and wear a face mask if you are travelling around large crowds or in areas with concentrations of Chinese travellers. Statistically, if you take basic precautions, you are extremely unlikely to contract the Novel Coronavirus. And if you do, for now, you have a 98% chance of full recovery.

Is it safe to travel, and travel around Asia?

Many airlines have suspended flights in and out of China. And thousands of foreign citizens, who were living in Wuhan, have now been repatriated to their home countries. But there are many countries, including the US, advising against travel to China. It would be sensible to postpone holidays or leisure travel to China until the statistics starts to trend downwards. Just keep abreast of reliable reporting. Travelling around other Asian destinations, statistically, is still extremely safe with the current checks and awareness around the region.

Is there a need to panic?
No

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Coronavirus

Coronavirus cases more than double in South Korea to surpass 150

Greeley Pulitzer

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Coronavirus cases more than double in South Korea to surpass 150 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: South Korea's coronavirus cases doubled in a day to surpass 150 - Yonhap

South Korea has reported its first death from the COVID-19 corona virus. The government reports that a 63 year old man, who died Wednesday, tested positive for the virus in a post mortem examination. The exact cause of his death has yet to be determined. He died in North Gyeongsang province, where he had been hospitalized for over 20 years, according to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

A 10:30am today, the total number of infected people in South Korea stood at 156, with 70 of them in Daegu and nearby North Gyeongsang Province. Most of the cases have been traced to a church in the city that a 61 year old woman, confirmed as the country’s 31st patient on Tuesday, had attended. Daegu fears becoming Korea’s Wuhan, with largest cluster outside of China: in just 24 hours through yesterday afternoon, the area saw 53 new cases confirmed. Among the new cases, 39 people are linked with the Sincheonji Church of Jesus, a Christian sect to which the 61 year old woman, who tested positive Tuesday, belongs.

KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong said 1,001 church members who attended services with the woman are now in self-isolation at home. But the agency is leaning toward the possibility that the woman could have contracted the virus via a secondary infection. She is considered to be a potential “superspreader.”

In a phone survey conducted by health authorities, 90 church members indicated having symptoms so far, although 396 could not be reached.

President Moon Jae-in vowed to mobilise all available resources to Daegu during a phone conversation with Mayor Kwon Young-jin. The central government plans to send medical professionals and facilities to help the city deal with snowballing cases.

Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Kang-lip says the country is facing a new situation that requires a different response.

“At this stage, (the government) has judged that COVID-19, which has been flowing in from overseas, is spreading locally with a limited scope.”

He added that cases where the source of infection is unclear are emerging in Daegu and the capital, Seoul. There are at least 20 coronavirus patients whose transmission path is unknown.

South Korea is now one of the countries that has reported the highest tallies outside mainland China, along with Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Coronavirus

Coronavirus UPDATE: S Korea tops 156 cases, Ukrainians attack evacuee bus

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus UPDATE: S Korea tops 156 cases, Ukrainians attack evacuee bus | The Thaiger

The total number of infected worldwide cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) stands at over 76,735. At least 2,247 people are now dead from the virus, with all but 11 of those deaths in mainland China. 18,561 people are now registered as ‘recovered’ from the virus. The fatality rate still sits around 2%.

• There has been a sharp spike in new cases of the virus in South Korea according to the country’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. A total of 52 new cases have been diagnosed in just one day, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 156.

Among the new cases, nearly 40 are linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southern city of Daegu. Authorities are now attempting to test the entire congregation.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on the phone yesterday, agreeing to share information about the two countries’ clinical treatment experiences.

President Xi told Moon that “the Chinese people has broken away from the initial fear and are seeing the prospect and hope of overcoming the infectious disease.”

• Dozens of protesters in a Ukraine town have mobbed buses carrying evacuees from coronavirus-hit China. The evacuees were being brought to a hospital in the central Poltava region, where they will be quarantine for 14 days.

Many residents fear the virus could spread through the town, which has a population of about 10,000. Earlier yesterday, 45 Ukrainians and 27 foreign nationals were flown from Wuhan in China, the epicentre of the deadly outbreak, to eastern Ukraine. Six buses then drove them to the hospital in Novi Sanzhary, where they were met by demonstrators lighting bonfires and hurling stones.

The country’s health ministry says none of the passengers were sick, whilst the Ukraine PM has issued statements trying to calm the panic in the town.

Coronavirus UPDATE: S Korea tops 156 cases, Ukrainians attack evacuee bus | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Protesters in the Ukraine react violently to the arrival of a bus load log evacuees from China

• 11 people evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, marooned in Yokohama Bay, and flown out by US authorities on February 17, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 13 of the US evacuees were taken to the University of Nebraska Medical Centre for testing. All but two tested positive.

Ten of the evacuees taken to UNMC remain in a quarantine unit, while three others are in a state Bio-containment unit, according to the release.

• Meanwhile, 2 passengers from Australia, also evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. 164 evacuees from the cruise ship arrived at the Howard Springs Quarantine Facility yesterday to begin a 14 day quarantine period.

6 passengers were identified to have minor respiratory symptoms or fevers and were moved into isolation and tested. 2 tested positive for the virus.

Australia now has 17 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus with 11 people registered as “recovered”.

• In further scientific research, the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) spreads mostly through respiratory droplets and contact with infected patients. But new research suggests that it can also spread through feces.

There are currently more cases of coronavirus than would be expected if the virus were spreading only through respiratory droplets and contact with infected patients. The report was published February 15 by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Previous tests have found that the coronavirus can be present in faeces, but it was unclear if the virus would be ‘viable’ and able to spread to another person, according to a previous Live Science report. So, a group of researchers analysed stool samples from patients with coronavirus.

According to the Live Sciencewebsite, they isolated the coronavirus from one patient who had severe pneumonia and examined the virus under an electron microscope. They found that the coronavirus was viable.

“This means that stool samples may contaminate hands, food, water, etc. People who use the bathroom and then don’t wash their hands could spread the virus to others, for instance.”

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Coronavirus, and Thailand’s property market

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus, and Thailand’s property market | The Thaiger

The Coronavirus outbreak poses challenges for Thailand’s real estate market as potential Chinese condominium buyers remain stranded in China. Analysts believe Chinese condominium transfers in 2020 will be at least 25% lower than average because of the challenges. Meanwhile, some believe that the outbreak may bring opportunities for non-Chinese buyers and in the long-run, the Chinese may be looking for an overseas refuge in the event of these types of emergencies.

Market remains weak

The pandemic, which started in China, is hurting the condominium market as Chinese nationals account for half of the international buyers in Thailand, or 57.6% of the total foreign condo owners in 2018.

Vichai Viratkapan, acting director-general of the Real Estate Information Centre says that 50% of Chinese condo transfers are expected to disappear in the first 2 quarters of this year and the total transfer value by the Chinese will miss the mark of the usual 29 billion baht by about 25% (around 7 billion).

However, since Chinese property buyers only make up 6% of the total international and domestic housing transfers in Thailand, the total housing transfer number in the country is likely to be similar to last year.

Thailand adjusts GDP growth target due to coronavirus

On Monday (February 17), the Office of the National Economics and Social Development Council said Thailand’s GDP growth rate is predicted to be about 2% this year, a record low in the last 6 years. They forecast the rate will be achieved if the pandemic ends before April or May, tourist arrivals reach 37 million, and the world economic growth grows 3.2%, among other factors. Otherwise…

The Chinese are reluctant to complete transfers

The virus has continued to affect hospitality operators, including hotels and condominiums that service tourists, nationwide. Since China has suspended tours, put restrictions on movement, and locked down cities, home to over millions of people, it also poses a threat to real estate developers as their clients are unable or unwilling to fly.

“Currently multiple off-plan condominium developments are approaching completion, and Chinese clients are unable or unwilling to transfer. Chinese clients who made a reservation in Q4 2019 are requesting a refund and withholding their investment,” said Marciano Bijmohun, Business Development Director at FazWaz Property Group.

He believes every condominium that is in transfer status will see the percentage of non-transfer units rise in the coming months.

“These non-transfer units will cause a big financial hit to developers.”

If a client refuses to transfer, does not comply with the terms and conditions stipulated in the sales and purchase agreement, and decides to release the property, their deposits will be forfeited.

“However, there is some good news, these non-transferred units can be offered with a discount to new clients.”

Also, as China has been susceptible to a few disease outbreaks – from bird flu and swine fever and the current coronavirus – it may prompt Chinese buyers to look for second homes outside of China.

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