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Coronavirus UPDATE: No cases in Indonesia, why? Are paper face-masks effective?

The Thaiger



Coronavirus UPDATE: No cases in Indonesia, why? Are paper face-masks effective? | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Face mask or no face mask? New York Times
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“Covid-19”. After a month and a half of being called the Wuhan Coronavirus, the Chinese Coronavirus or just boring old ‘coronavirus‘, the viral strain now has an official name. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was speaking in Geneva. “We now have a name for the disease and it’s Covid-19,”

This morning the number of cases worldwide has reached 44,852, resulting in 1,113 deaths 4,536 total recoveries. The vast majority of the world’s cases are still in China with a recent outbreak of new cases in Japan. Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand make up the Top 5 countries for current cases.

Coronavirus UPDATE: No cases in Indonesia, why? Are paper face-masks effective? | News by The Thaiger

WHO chief Tedros said that they needed to find a name that “did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease.”

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”

The word ‘coronavirus’ refers to the family of viruses it belongs to, rather than the latest strain. The virus itself has been designated SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. Researchers wanted an official name to avoid confusion and stigmatisation of any group or country.

The latest news from around the world…

• A cruise ship carrying more than 1,450 passengers has denied permission to dock in Thailand over coronavirus fears. The “Westerdam” had already been turned away from several ports, including in Japan, Taiwan, Guam and The Philippiness. Holland America, the owners of the ship, say they have “no reason to believe” anyone on board is contagious. It had planned to dock in Bangkok this Thursday but the Thai government has “refused” permission.

“While the ship would not be allowed to disembark, Thailand would gladly help providing fuel, medicine, and food to the vessel.”

• The coronavirus outbreak will hit a peak in China this month and may be over by April. The Chinese government’s senior medical adviser made the claim yesterday in the latest assessment of the Coronavirus outbreak. His predictions include…

• Virus peaks in February, then eases

• Numbers of new cases already falling in many spots

• Zhong wants global early warning system to spot future outbreaks

• Believes Chinese local authorities made mistakes

Speaking to Reuters, the 83 year old epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, who won notoriety for combating the SARS epidemic in 2003, shed tears about the doctor Li Wenliang who died last week after being admonished for raising concerns over social media early on.

But Zhong Nanshan is optimistic the spread of the current outbreak would soon slow, with the number of new cases already statistically declining in some places.

“We don’t know why it’s so contagious, so that’s a big problem.”

• Health authorities are questioning how or why Indonesia has not yet reported a single case of the coronavirus, even though officials were slow to halt nonstop flights from China. Indonesia takes in about 2 million Chinese tourists a year, most of them to the resort island of Bali.

China’s consulate general on Bali says that about 5,000 Chinese tourists were still in Bali, including 200 from the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the current outbreak.

Indonesia’s close neighbours have all reported cases, including Thailand, The Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and, to the south, Australia.

Indonesia’s security minister, Mohammad Mahfud MD made the proud boast last Friday…

“So far, Indonesia is the only major country in Asia that does not have a corona case. The coronavirus does not exist in Indonesia.”

Do masks do anything to help?

Using a face mask to prevent infection is popular in many countries, especially China. They are also worn to protect against high pollution levels. In both cases scientists and doctors are skeptical if they do anything to prevent the wearer from catching a virus or breathing in polluted air.

Now virologists say they doubt their effectiveness against even airborne viruses (The current Coronavirus has not been confirmed to be an airborne virus. Studies continue to examine the current viral strain’s ability to be transmitted through the air).

But there is some evidence to suggest the masks can certainly help prevent hand-to-mouth transmissions.

The flimsy paper surgical masks were first introduced into hospitals in the early 1800s but didn’t make the transition into public use until the Spanish flu outbreak in 1919 that killed over 50 million people.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr David Carrington, of St George’s, University of London, says “routine surgical masks for the public are not an effective protection against viruses or bacteria carried in the air”, because they were too loose, had no air filter and left the eyes exposed. But he says they could help lower the risk of contracting a virus through the “splash” from a sneeze or a cough at extremely close range and provide some protection against hand-to-mouth transmissions. In Australian, a 2016 study from New South Wales noted that people touched their faces about 23 times an hour.

Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, says that the wearing of face masks, properly fitted, has been a standard sight in hospitals, and mostly an effective tool, especially to prevent the spread of a disease from the patient.

“However, when you move to studies looking at their effectiveness in the general population, the data is less compelling. Tt’s quite a challenge to keep a mask on for prolonged periods of time.”

Dr Connor Bamford, of the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, at Queen’s University in Belfast, says (as conformed by the WHO and numerous studies) “implementing simple hygiene measures” was vastly more effective.

“Covering your mouth while sneezing, washing your hands, and not putting your hands to your mouth before washing them, could help limit the risk of catching any respiratory virus.”

Whilst wearing a face mask may make you ‘feel’ more protected, unless properly worn if it unlikely to prevent you from catching the disease. The following three suggestions are your best bet to avoid catching a flu or coronavirus, confirmed by the UK NHS and the WHO…

• regularly wash your hands with warm water and soap
• avoid touching your eyes and nose wherever possible
• maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Eva Brooks

    February 12, 2020 at 9:48 am

    Its unlikely that Indonesia has no covid-19. It’s more likely that they didn’t recognise it or they didn’t acknowledge it; or would rather boast that they haven’t got it instead of saying what they are doing to prevent it. Its ticking time-bomb.

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CORONAVIRUS update: Scientists debunk conspiracies, South Korea cases jump to 82

The Thaiger



CORONAVIRUS update: Scientists debunk conspiracies, South Korea cases jump to 82 | The Thaiger

“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”

China’s National Health Commission reports there has been 114 new deaths from the coronavirus outbreak bringing the death toll to at least 2,126. 16,433 people have now fully recovered around the world. Around the world, there are 31 new cases in South Korea now which puts them in the top 4 countries with confirmed coronavirus cases. Japan has 84, Singapore also 84 and now South Korea has reached 82 cases.

Thailand’s confirmed cases remain at 35 with no new cases announced since Sunday.

China’s national health commission also reported 394 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, significantly lower than the 1,749 new cases reported the day before. The latest confirmed number of cases is the biggest drop in almost a month.

South Korea reported 31 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the number of people infected in the country to 82. Of the new cases, 23 cases were traced to church services that a 61 year old patient had attended in the central city of Daegu.

Yesterday, the Shincheonji Church posted a statement on its website confirming 10 of its members were infected by the woman who had attended services.

The US public network NPR reports that there are two basic approaches to stopping viral infections. One is to block an enzyme the virus needs either to make copies of itself or infect cells. The other is to make a monoclonal antibody, based on a recovered patient’s immune response.

Researchers around the world are already testing the first idea with an experimental, broad-acting antiviral drug known as Remdesivir, which works by “gumming up a virus’s ability to replicate”.

The drug is currently being tested in China on patients who have coronavirus (Covid-19). A study published just last week found that Remdesivir successfully reduced respiratory symptoms in rhesus monkeys exposed to another coronavirus that causes serious disease, MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome.

In other work, the biopharmaceutical company Sirnaomics, a US pharmaceutical company in Maryland, is hoping to use a gene-silencing technique known as “RNA interference” to turn off key genes in the new coronavirus. But first, the company must identify viral genes to target.

Patrick Lu, Sirnaomics CEO says the testing is ongoing.

“We are currently testing 150 of them using cell-based culture. We are working with groups in the US and China.”

A group of Australians have landed in Darwin airport this morning after being evacuated from the virus-stricken cruise ship in Yokohama Bay in Japan. About 180 nationals and permanent residents had earlier left Japan on a chartered QANTAS jet.

The evacuees had been confined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama for the past two weeks. The ship had a total of 621 confirmed cases of the virus, the most in any single location outside of China.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has sternly denounced China’s expulsion of three Wall Street Journal reporters and is urging Beijing to respect freedom of the press.

“Mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinion. The correct response is to present counter-arguments, not restrict speech.”

The move follows official complaints from Chinese authorities about the headline of an opinion article in the WSJ, which referred to China as the Real Sick Man of Asia* and a decision by Washington earlier this week to treat five government-controlled Chinese news organisations as foreign government functionaries. The move is seen as a likely tit-for-tat move by the Chinese after the US’s open criticism of Chinese media.

* We’ve provided a link to the editorial but there’s a pay-wall if you want to read it

27 prominent public health scientists are pushing back against the steady stream of fake stories and even a debunked scientific paper suggesting a laboratory in Wuhan may be the origin of the outbreak of coronavirus. The scientists, from 9 countries, wrote their statement and were published in The Lancet yesterday.

“The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins.”

The letter does not openly criticise any specific assertions about the origin of the outbreak, but many posts on social media have singled out the Wuhan Institute of Virology for intense scrutiny because it has a laboratory at the highest security level, and its researchers study coronaviruses from bats, including the one that is closest to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Conspiracy theories have included the possibility that the “virus was bioengineered in the lab” or that a lab worker was infected while handling a bat and then transmitted the disease to others. Researchers from the institute have insisted there is no link between the outbreak and their laboratory.

“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”

The coronavirus outbreak that continues to paralyse China’s economy may have a silver lining for the environment. China’s carbon emissions have dropped by least 100 million metric tonnes over the past two weeks, according to a study published by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland.

“That is nearly 6% of global emissions during the same period last year.”

Over the past two weeks, daily power generation at coal power plants was at a four-year low compared with the same period last year, while steel production has sunk to a five-year low, researchers found.

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Hong Kong police on a roll as third suspect in toilet paper heist flushed out

Greeley Pulitzer



Hong Kong police on a roll as third suspect in toilet paper heist flushed out | The Thaiger
Photo: Shoppers with bags of toilet paper in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Hongkongers have been snapping up surgical masks and toilet paper rolls amid the coronavirus outbreak - SCMP

Hong Kong has been gripped by panic buying since the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, as frightened residents hoard essentials like rice and toilet tissue. Now, a third man man has been arrested there for his role in a bizarre toilet paper heist, as a gang aimed to clean up during a run of frenzied buying in the city.

The 26 year old man was arrested up during a raid at a guest house not far from the scene of the robbery, in which 600 toilet rolls worth HK$1,640 (6,575 baht) were stolen at knife-point early on Monday morning.

“We believe the trio thought the rolls would have [market] value and that they could profit by reselling them. They knew each other and one of them has a triad background.”

“Triads” are traditional organized-crime groups originating from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Police say the gang moved the toilet rolls in a trolley after the crime and that they anticipate more arrests.

At about 6am on Monday, three masked men stole 50 packets of toilet roll from a delivery man outside a Wellcome supermarket. Police say one of the men was armed with two knives.

Two people, aged 50 and 55, were arrested on Monday, and police said at the time they were seeking three others, thought to be aged between 20 and 30. Two of the arrested were guest house employees while the third was unemployed.


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All but one of 138 Thai evacuees from Wuhan return home as quarantine ends

Greeley Pulitzer



All but one of 138 Thai evacuees from Wuhan return home as quarantine ends | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The 137 Thai evacuees from Wuhan, who have been under observation since February 4th, were allowed to return home today after final medical check-ups. - Thai Residents

137 Thai nationals evacuated from China’s city of Wuhan city, epicentre of the global COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak were allowed to return to their homes today after two weeks of quarantine. The 137 were certified by the Public Health Ministry yesterday to be free from the virus. One patient is still being monitored at a Chon Buri Hospital.

Some of the 137 were picked up by relatives, while another group was sent to bus terminals or airports by Royal Thai Navy.

Deputy Minister of Public Health Satit Pitutecha and Chonburi governor Pakarathon Tienchai gave souvenirs to the 137 today before their departure.

SOURCE: The Nation

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