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Thailand charters civilian plane to repatriate stranded Thais in Wuhan

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Thailand charters civilian plane to repatriate stranded Thais in Wuhan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Masks sold out - Bloomberg
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The Thai government will charter a plane from a commercial airline to evacuate Thai citizens trapped in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says they’ve opted not to use a military transport plane as the Chinese government declined to permit a military aircraft repatriate the Thais earlier this week. It was reported that there remains about 65 Thais stranded in Wuhan who were either studying or working in the hospitality industries.

PM Prayut explained that it will be the Chinese medical authorities who will determine if Thai citizens stuck in Wuhan are clear of coronavirus infection, in which case they will be allowed to leave and return to Thailand.

The Chinese government has already allowed Japanese citizens to evacuate from Wuhan, the first country to be granted such access. 206 Japanese citizens were evacuated – four had a fever at the time they departed and were isolated from other passengers during the flight home.

Meanwhile, the PM has reiterated that his administration has taken “stringent preventative measures” to cope with the situation. His comments came at the same time the first human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus was confirmed in Thailand yesterday.

The government has also come under local criticism for not banning flights to and from Chinese ports, whilst other countries have already taken that step.

“While screening of arriving and departing Chinese tourists, the Thai government must remain sensitive to maintaining the good relations between Thailand and China.”

Prayut said that it’s important that Thailand has confidence that China, the country is capable of containing the virus.

The Deputy PM Jurin Laksanavisit has also assured Thais that there are enough face masks to meet demand for protection against both the virus and PM2.5 dust in the atmosphere.

About 30 million face masks are produced each month and the Internal Trade Department called a meeting today with the manufacturers “to ensure that there will be a sufficient supply to meet public demand, while preventing hoarding or high pricing by profiteers”, according to Thai PBS World.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand welcomes cruise ship shunned in Vietnam over virus fears

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thailand welcomes cruise ship shunned in Vietnam over virus fears | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The AIDAvita - Cruisemapper

German cruise ship AIDAvita has been welcomed in Thailand, days after it was blocked from docking in Vietnam due to fears of the COVID-19 coronavirus spreading across the region. Authorities in Vietnam’s Quang Ninh province, home to UNESCO world heritage site Ha Long Bay, barred passengers on the AIDAvita from disembarking on Thursday, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

Germany’s AIDA Cruises, the owner of the AIDAvita, did not respond to requests for comment. AIDA Cruises is a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp. The vessel, with some 1,100 passengers and 400 crew, docked early yesterday at the eastern Laem Chabang port, according to a Thai Maritime Security official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“This morning Department of Disease Control officials have monitored all the passengers and right now there has been no report of any patients inside. The situation on this ship is normal and officials have not found anyone with fever over 37.5 degrees.”

Stoking fears in countries that usually allow cruise ships to dock is the quarantine in Japan of the Diamond Princess, also managed by a unit of Carnival Corp. Of the 3,700 passengers and crew on that vessel, 335 have now tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. The ship remains quarantined in Japan’s Yokohama port. Phuket recently allowed two cruise ships to dock after turning away the MS Westerdam, which was eventually allowed to dock in Cambodia.

The AIDAvita was scheduled to disembark in Phuket today. However, because of worries about the virus, AIDA says it will now send the Aidavita and another vessel, the AIDAbella, for tours in other parts of the world. Rerouting these ships away from Asia, in effect cancelling them, will affect some 3,300 passengers.

SOURCES: The Star | Reuters

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UPDATE: China coronavirus deaths reach 1665, Taiwan reports first fatality

Greeley Pulitzer

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UPDATE: China coronavirus deaths reach 1665, Taiwan reports first fatality | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Streets across much of China are empty as the governmentthere tries to halt the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus - AFP

UPDATE: Taiwan has confirmed its first death from the coronavirus. Malaysia says it won’t allow any more passengers from the Westerdam cruise ship to enter the country from Cambodia, after an American woman who flew into Kuala Lumpur was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

China said today the number of coronavirus cases nationwide had reached 68,500, with the death toll rising to 1,665. Hubei province reported fewer new infections for a second straight day, and 139 deaths. It had 1,843 new cases, dropping from 2,420 a day earlier.

SOURCE: Bloomberg

ORIGINAL STORY: New cases of COVID-19 coronavirus infection dropped for a third consecutive day today, as World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned it is “impossible” to predict how the outbreak will develop. Concern remains high around the world about the spread of the virus, which emerged in China’s central Hubei province in December. The first death outside Asia was reported in France yesterday. An 80-year-old Chinese tourist was the fourth person outside of China to die from the virus, with the other deaths occurring in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan.

The death toll climbed to 1,665 in mainland China today after 142 more deaths were reported. More than 68,000 people are now infected, but the number of new cases of the COVID-19 strain is falling. In Hubei, the number of new cases slowed for a third day and at 139, the number of deaths was equal to Saturday’s toll. The number of new cases in other parts of the country has dropped for twelve straight days.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was cautious, however. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, he said:

“[It is] impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take. We ask all governments, companies, and news organisations to work with us to sound the appropriate level of alarm without fanning the flames of hysteria”

“China has bought the world time. We don’t know how much time.”

The UN health body has asked China for more details on how diagnoses are being made, after a spike in reported cases on Thursday when authorities in Hubei changed their “methodology for diagnosing the coronavirus,” retroactively adding thousands of new patients to their tally. Hubei added more than 14,000 cases in a single day after officials there started counting people clinically diagnosed through lung imaging, in addition to those with a positive lab test result.

Chinese authorities have placed around 56 million people in Hubei, and its capital Wuhan, under quarantine, virtually sealing off the province from the rest of the country and the world, in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus. Beijing’s municipal government has enacted a rule requiring all people coming to the capital to quarantine themselves for 14 days, warning that violators would be punished, according to state media.

The biggest cluster outside China is on a quarantined cruise ship off Japan, with 335 infections as of today. A US State Department spokesperson says Americans stranded on the vessel will be evacuated and face further quarantine of two weeks in the United States. Hong Kong also announced it will charter a flight for the city’s residents on the ship, who will stay at a quarantine centre for 14 days on their return. Several countries have banned arrivals from China and major airlines have cut services to the country.

With China’s government facing criticism over its handling of the crisis, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for tighter policing “to protect social stability.”

“[The government must] increase use of police force and strengthen the visible use of police to ensure stability during the crisis.”

China’s central bank says it will also banknotes with ultraviolet light or high temperatures and store them for up to 14 days before they are put back into circulation.

SOURCE: AFP

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New coronavirus case confirmed in Thailand, brings total to 34

The Thaiger

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New coronavirus case confirmed in Thailand, brings total to 34 | The Thaiger

A new case of the coronavirus (covid-19) has now been confirmed in Thailand which brings the total in the country to 34 since the start of this year. The public health ministry made the announcement yesterday.

The new case is a 35 year old Thai female, a medical personnel, who was infected after contact with a patient, Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchia, according to the director-general of the Department of Disease Control.

Health workers are among the most vulnerable groups exposed to the coronavirus. The Chinese government revealed this week that 1,716 medical workers there have been infected, with six already dying from the virus.

The vast majority of infections among health workers have been in Wuhan, Hubei, epicentre of the outbreak, where many lack proper protections in hospitals dealing with a deluge of patients.

In Thailand, 14 people, previously identified with coronavirus, have recovered and returned home.

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