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Coronavirus

Coronavirus UPDATE – sharp increase in cases, UK officials battle to contain a new threat

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus UPDATE – sharp increase in cases, UK officials battle to contain a new threat | The Thaiger
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There’s been a sharp spike in new cases of coronavirus, principally in the central Chinese province of Hubei. There are now 60,373 world cases, 59,805 in China. 1,369 people have died and over 6,000 recovered.

242 new deaths were recorded yesterday, the deadliest day since the start of the outbreak. So what’s behind the big rise? It’s not actually a spike in the disease, but it reflects a change in the way statistics are collected and reported. Hubei health officials are now using a broader definition to diagnose people – which accounts for the vast majority of new cases. Until yesterday, the number of people diagnosed was stabilising.

Hubei province – which accounts for more than 80% of Chinese infections – now includes “clinically diagnosed cases” in the number of confirmed case statistics. Earlier this week, a number of leading provincial health officials and party leaders were side-lined from their jobs.

Other key Coronavirus news from around the world…

• Economists are already factoring in the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Different banks and research institutions estimate that China’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth for Q1 this year could be less than 4%. Whilst that’s still laudable and would be welcomed by most western economies, it’s a sharp drop from the usual 6% plus annual growth rate. The problem is that China’s economy represents more than 20% of the world economy.

Business research agencies in Japan estimate that Japan’s GDP growth could slide backwards 0.2% if the outbreak lasts more than three months, or by nearly 1% if the outbreak lasts for a whole year.

• Thailand will also be highly affected by China’s (and to a lesser extent, Japan’s) economic slumps due to its close economic ties with China through tourism, business and exports. Some international economic research houses are cutting Thailand’s projected GDP growth for 2020 from 2.7% to 2%, or less. One even forecast the possibility of negative growth for the south east Asian Kingdom.

• Several international cases of the coronavirus, from the UK and South Korea, can be traced back to Singapore. As a result, some countries are now advising against travel to the south east Asian business hub. The tiny city-state now faces unique challenges, whilst generally being commended for its management of the crisis.

Changi Airport remains one of the most interconnected hubs in the world. With a flight taking off or arriving every 80 seconds, it’s more connected than JFK in New York or San Francisco in the US, and Dubai in the UAE. Now, dozens of thermal scanners and staff wearing face masks are dotted around the terminals, automatically checking temperature, cough and other symptoms of passengers as they enter and exit Singapore.

• 12 days separate the man’s departure from Singapore after a business conference, and finding out he had been infected with the new coronavirus. When UK citizen Steve Walsh was tested he had no symptoms. But his case has now set in train a series of events leaving UK health officials battling to stop the coronavirus from spreading across the UK.

Complicating the issue, the 53 year old had a four day stopover at a French ski resort on his way back from the Singapore conference. He didn’t know it, but he was spreading the virus as he went.
By the time he alerted the British health system, the NHS, after being contacted by Singaporean authorities about the spread of coronavirus at that conference, he had unwittingly passed it on to 11 other UK citizens at the ski resort. Five of them were already back in the UK, two were GPs.

Between the six people, they had come into contact with hundreds of others around Brighton and East Sussex before being isolated. The situation is fluid as UK health officials continue to track down and test anyone who may have come into contact with the group.

• South China Morning Post reports that the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is the latest sports event to be caught up in the city’s battle against the virus outbreak and will likely be moved back to October. This year’s 45th edition of the rugby tournament, was scheduled to take place at Hong Kong Stadium from April 3 – 5. Earlier organisers said the event was “all systems go” despite the battle against the virus, but have had to shelve the World Rugby Sevens World Series stop for at least six months.

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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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