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Coronavirus UPDATE: More Chinese cities restrict travel, Thailand checking land borders

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus UPDATE: More Chinese cities restrict travel, Thailand checking land borders | The Thaiger
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The death toll from the novel coronavirus has grown to 80 today. The entire Hubei Province is now in the largest health ‘lockdown’ ever mounted in modern medical history with tight controls of who or what is inbound or outbound from the central Chinese province, plus severe restrictions on movement in place in several other Chinese cities.

The number of deaths from the flu-like virus in Hubei province climbed from 56 to 76 overnight with four deaths elsewhere in China. The total number of confirmed cases in China had risen to 2,744, but that number is sure to rise in the next days and weeks.

In Thailand, the Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has come out to assure the Thai public that current preventive measures are sufficient to control the spread of the novel coronavirus within the Kingdom. He says the Ministry is coordinating with the World Health Organisation to keep up-to-date with the evolution of the virus in China, as well as the limited cases in Thailand involving Chinese visitors.

In a livestreamed video at midnight last night, the minister said that Thailand “had been through similar crises before and is making use of the experience”, with updated technology and tracking to suit the current situation.

Anutin announced that there have been eight confirmed cases in Thailand, all of them tourists who had flown in from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the current outbreak.

“Five of these have already returned home with the remaining three clear of the virus with their condition steadily improving.”

“I can assure you that, for the time being, the situation is under control.”

The Minister confirmed that 84 Chinese tourists remain under observation in Thailand, including 24 who were detected with a “fever” at airport screening on their arrival. 60 other voluntarily admitted themselves to hospital after developing symptoms associated with the coronavirus.

“45 of them, however, have been discharged and have returned to China, leaving 39 still under observation.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, claims that person-to-person transmission of the novel coronavirus is “not easy”. He made his comments after following the recovery of 40 patients, including medical personnel who had been working in close contact with infected patients without becoming infected themselves.

Apart from screenings at all international airports, Chinese nationals entering Thailand over the Cambodian border point in Aranyaprathet district are also being given thermal health scans for signs of the coronavirus. About 500 Chinese in tour groups passed through the checkpoint this morning. They were all screened and none were detected with any symptoms. All were allowed to enter Thailand, according to the Bangkok Post.

The side-effects of the global concerns include international markets. The US S&P500 futures fell more than 1% in Asian trade this morning on mounting worries the outbreak of the virus could severely disrupt the Chinese economy.

China’s cabinet says it is extending the week-long Chinese New Year holiday to ten days, to February 2 in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. And Beijing is calling for full transparency in managing the crisis, after losing public trust following a cover-up of the spread of SARS, a similar coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people globally in 2002 and 2003.

The World Health Organisation has stopped short of designating the outbreak a “global health emergency”, but some international health experts question if China can contain the epidemic.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus arrived in Beijing over the weekend to meet government officials and health experts dealing with the outbreak.

Meanwhile, France, Italy, Japan, Thailand and the US have all announced evacuation plans to repatriate their citizens from Wuhan. France said it expected to repatriate up to a few hundred of its 800 citizens living in the Wuhan area. The French government says the evacuees will spend 14 days in quarantine to avoid the spread of the virus when they return. In Thailand the government has also announced plans to use civilian and Air Force planes to bring Thai citizens, including students and massage spa workers, home.

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Coronavirus

More virus cases reported outside of China than within

Greeley Pulitzer

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More virus cases reported outside of China than within | The Thaiger
PHOTO: - Getty Images

For the first time ever, more COVID-19 coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China yesterday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The US is urging travellers to delay or cancel travel to South Korea after that country’s confirmed cases passed the 1500 mark. New cases were found around the world, from Pakistan to Brazil.

The Iranian government said yesterday that 19 people have died there so far and 139 people have been infected, but the true numbers are expected to be much higher. A WHO team will travel to Iran this weekend to evaluate the situation. In a move sure to cause shudders in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia has put a halt on religious travel to its holiest sites, Mecca and Medina.

Authorities in the US say they’ve identified their first coronavirus case with no ties to a known outbreak. The news comes after President Donald Trump assured Americans that they face little risk from the outbreak, and appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead the country’s response to the virus.

More virus cases reported outside of China than within | News by The Thaiger

Key Developments

Global deaths: 2,801, with 82,084 cases worldwide

China death toll: 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433

More virus cases reported outside of China than within | News by The Thaiger

For live updates on coronavirus statistics courtesy of gisanddata, click HERE

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | gisanddata

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Coronavirus

Health minister demands full disclosure of travel history after 3 more coronavirus cases confirmed

Greeley Pulitzer

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Health minister demands full disclosure of travel history after 3 more coronavirus cases confirmed | The Thaiger

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul had harsh words in a press conference yesterday for the 65 year old Thai man who concealed his travel history from medical workers, exposing not only some 30 medics but also his own family members to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The man and his wife had recently returned from Hokkaido in Japan, and, along with their grandson, became the latest confirmed cases of the virus in Thailand, bringing the total to 40. The three are now being treated at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province.

The Public Health Ministry warns people against withholding information to public health officials and has suggested state agencies and companies issue an advisory and/or temporary ban on visits to coronavirus-affected countries, as it increases efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

“If he had not been detected fast enough, he could have become a super-spreader, like [the] elderly woman in South Korea.”

Anutin called man’s conduct “very discouraging, not only for people in general, but especially for the medical staff who have been working very hard.”

All of the classmates of the 8 year old boy, meanwhile, have been quarantined and confined to their homes for 14 days, and their parents told to report to doctors if any of them develops flu-like symptoms.

Anutin said he would prefer that health officials not go abroad and will ask tour agencies to stop offering promotional packages to Japan at bargain-basement prices, some as little as 2,000-3,000 baht, saying it is not worth the risk “as it may be their last trip.”

As for political rallies on school campuses, Anutin said he would like organisers of such events to screen participants and provide face masks and sanitizers at the rally sites.

He assured the public, however, that the spread of COVID-19 in Thailand has not yet reached Level 3.

Permanent secretary of the health department Dr. Sukhum Kanchanapimai said that while there are now 40 confirmed coronavirus cases in Thailand, 24 of them have recovered and returned home.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Tourism

The Coronavirus effect – Phuket and hotel report

Bill Barnett

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The Coronavirus effect – Phuket and hotel report | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett, c9hotelworks.com

“Perhaps the biggest wild card is the mounting number of travel advisories across the globe based on Covid-19”

In what is a continuing storyline on the global coronavirus outbreak, Bill Barnett reports on the impact on Thailand’s most popular island destination, Phuket. He says that the impact on Phuket tourism market is a creating challenging landscape.

“Looking at the largest single drop according to STR data, was the week of January 20 – 27 in the lead up to Chinese New Year, market-wide occupancy fell from 90% down to 60%.”

As of February 17, occupancy was sitting at the mid-50% level, though rate room rates have remained static during the past month. This week hotel numbers continue to shift downward as sentiment worsens due to travel advisories and a uncertainty over return travel are key issues.

The Coronavirus effect - Phuket and hotel report | News by The Thaiger

Moving over to the aviation gateway of Phuket International Airport as of the February 25, month-to-date arrivals compared to the same period last year were down 37.5%. Looking at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, the comparative figure is a negative 45.2%. which ramps into the Phuket situation given it’s a feeder of business to the island.

Forward trading remains speculative, but there remains widespread postponement and/or cancellations of MICE events.

(The Thaiger was speaking to the owner of a big MICE company in Phuket last week who said that they started the year with a good portfolio of upcoming MICE events on the island but ALL had been cancelled)

While there is some movement to motivate the Thai domestic market by the TAT, all of Thailand’s markets are chasing that same tail. The upcoming Songkran period is likely to be dominated by staycations versus international trips abroad. Expectations are that that declining demand and airlift are key factors impacting occupancy and we are starting to see rate-driven promotions which will undoubtedly hit ADR’s (Average Daily Rate).

Perhaps the biggest wild card is the mounting number of travel advisories across the globe based on coronavirus (Covid-19), and for now, travel and tourism are working on day-to-day management of the situation. As the majority of hoteliers are looking for some historical context and the closest thing to grab onto is the SARS crisis in 2003. For Thailand the market hit a freefall over five months from March to July, as market-wide occupancy bottomed out just under the 30% level in May of that year.

Or course, what followed was the big bounce and pent up demand drove recovery in August. It continued with spectacular growth in the decades since.

In the case of the coronavirus, the only takeaway from the current situation is a bit like the Back to the Future gab… “where we’re headed, there aren’t any roads”.

(Almost, the actual quote from the movie is “where we’re heading, we don’t need roads”)

Read a report from The Thaiger about the effect of Coronavirus on the Thai property market HERE.

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