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Coronavirus UPDATE – Total virus cases surpass 7,000

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus UPDATE – Total virus cases surpass 7,000 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: SCMP
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The statistics keep rising, a mathematical tally of a human dimension. The world is trying to come to grips with a new, largely unknown, viral strain with flu-like symptoms that attacks the respiratory system. The good news, if any, from the latest outbreak is that most people are either ending up with “mild symptoms” and most recovering. 20% of current patients are said to have “severe symptoms”.

The World Health Organisation’s summary of the current situation is the topic of today’s update.

Whilst early indications reveal it is not as deadly as SARS, the coronavirus that emerged in China in 2002, it’s spread has certainly matched the growth of the SARS outbreak.

The number of cases of the new strain of coronavirus is close to surpassing that of reported SARS cases.

As of Thursday morning, the number of deaths attributed to the Novel Coronavirus has reached 170 whilst the number of confirmed patients is now exceeding 7,000.

The World Health Organisation says the “whole world needs to be on alert to fight the coronavirus”, this from the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program. Dr Mike Ryan praised China’s response to the outbreak.

“The challenge is great but the response has been massive.”

“An international team of experts was being assembled to go to China and work with experts there to learn more about how the disease is transmitted.”

“We are at an important juncture in this event. We believe these chains of transmission can still be interrupted.”

The director-general of the World Health Organisation says that “China deserves the international community’s gratitude and respect for having taken very serious measures to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak and prevent exporting cases overseas”.

The WHO are meeting again today to discuss whether the virus constitutes a “global health emergency”.
The virus has now spread to at least 16 countries, including Thailand, France, the US and Australia.

• There is no specific cure or vaccine although scientists are racing to learn more about the virus. They admit it could take years to test and develop a viable vaccine.

• Scientists in Australia have managed to recreate the coronavirus outside of China, raising hope that it could be used to develop an early-diagnosis test.

• Most people who contract the coronavirus are suffering only “milder symptoms”, but about 20% had severe effects such as pneumonia and respiratory failure, according to WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has just returned from China.

“China needs the world’s solidarity and support, and that “the world is pulling together to end the outbreak, building on lessons learned from past outbreaks.”

• In Wuhan, the residents are enduring an isolated and frustrating time. Traffic has been largely banned, including all forms of public transport, and 11 million people are staying in their homes, minimising their exposure to the virus.

• Videos coming out of Wuhan show neighbours shouting “Wuhan jiayou!” (Stay strong Wuhan or Keep on going Wuhan) from the safety of their homes. The phrase has been trending on Chinese social media, with people from around the country posting supportive messages.

“We will get through this. Wuhan jiayou, the whole country is supporting you.”

• The WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the organisation “deeply regrets” what he describes as a “human error” in WHO reports last week that referred to the global risk of the outbreak as “moderate” instead of “high”.

• Airlines around the world are evaluating their flight schedules in and out of all Chinese cities, either suspending or cutting back services, following cases of human-to-human transmission outside the country.

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Coronavirus

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

The Thaiger

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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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Coronavirus

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

Greeley Pulitzer

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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.

SOURCE: SCMP

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Coronavirus

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

Greeley Pulitzer

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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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