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Coronavirus

Washington imposes travel ban, quarantines

Greeley Pulitzer

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Washington imposes travel ban, quarantines | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Traditional Building Magazine
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In a dramatic reversal, the Trump administration yesterday announced severe travel restrictions and quarantines that officials say are meant to limit the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus. The move is an about-face after the government initially downplayed the potential risks.

The administration declared a national public health emergency and, from tomorrow at 5pm, will bar all non-citizens who recently visited China from entering the United States.

The Secretary for Health and Human Services says the administration is establishing mandatory quarantines for all Americans who visited China’s Hubei province within the past 14 days, and requiring screening and self-quarantines for all other Americans who recently visited China.

The new measures, which appear unprecedented on such a scale, are part of the rapidly evolving and occasionally disjointed international approach to the growing health scare, partly because officials are learning that the virus is much harder to detect than initially thought and can be transmitted by people who show no symptoms. New cases were reported Friday in the United Kingdom and Russia, and Canada confirmed its fourth case.

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sought to reassure the public:

“This is a serious health situation in China, but I want to emphasize that the risk to the American public currently is low. Our goal is to do all we can do to keep it that way. Right now, there’s a lot of unknowns.”

Officials say the new restrictions are temporary but did not say when they might be lifted. Meanwhile, major US airlines that travel to China, American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta, announced they are suspending flights to the country, in some cases until late March. The length of these cancellations shows governments and businesses are preparing for much longer-term interruptions than initially thought, raising the possibility of a sizable impact on the global economy. Many Chinese businesses remain closed, and China is a top trading partner of a number of countries.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that the process for testing people for the coronavirus has proven very imprecise and this is one of the reasons for the aggressive US response.

“We still have a low risk to the American public, but we want to keep it at a low risk. There “are so many unknowns here.”

The coronavirus emerged in China in early December, and so far has killed 259 people, all in China, and infected more than 9,800 people in at least 24 countries. There have been more than 100 cases reported outside of China, including 20 in Thailand. At least 12 people with the virus have not recently traveled to China and were infected by other people.

The number of confirmed cases has surpassed the SARS outbreak of 2002-03, but the new virus appears less deadly. Studies have estimated that each infected person spreads the virus to two to three other people.

On Thursday, the US State Department issued a “do not travel” advisory for China, the department’s highest warning level, which previously had only been in place for the Hubei province where the outbreak began.

President Donald Trump himself so far has remained uncharacteristically muted on the coronavirus and praised China’s response to the outbreak. On Wednesday, he tweeted out photos of his Situation Room briefing and said his administration was “working closely with China” to contain the outbreak.

 

SOURCE: The Washington Post

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Coronavirus

China reports further reduction in new coronavirus cases, down to 397; Korea has a second death

Greeley Pulitzer

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China reports further reduction in new coronavirus cases, down to 397; Korea has a second death | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Staff at the workshop of Fusen Pharmaceutical China’s Henan Province. The company has resumed production to ensure the supply of medicines during the fight against the coronavirus - Xinhua

China’s National Health Commission announced today that the country had 397 new confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus infections as of yesterday, down from 889 cases a day earlier. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 76,288. The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 2,345.

Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, reported 106 new deaths, 90 in the capital, Wuhan. New infections in China have been falling for days, although changes in how it counts cases have caused doubts about the true trajectory of the epidemic.

China last week began recording new cases without waiting for laboratory results, causing a significant spike in the number of cases reported. But on Thursday it returned to its original method of counting, and removed some cases from the tally because test results were negative. The changes are sure to aggravate observers who say consistency is key to understanding COVID-19’s path.

South Korea reported 142 more cases this morning, bringing the nationwide total to 346. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an additional death, bringing the total to two.

Among the latest cases, 92 were connected to a hospital in Cheongdo, a southern city connected to a religious sect. More than 150 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus have now been infected, after a 61 year old woman developed a fever on February 10 but attended at least four church services in the city of Daegu before being diagnosed. Cheongdo, around 27 kilometres south of Daegu, is the birthplace of Lee Man-hee, Shincheonji’s founder. County officials said yesterday that a three day funeral was held for his brother three weeks ago at a hall owned by the hospital, where the 92 new cases were confirmed today.

Iran announced three more infections Thursday, a day after it reported its first two deaths.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Thai PBS World

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Coronavirus

No virus cover-up, PM tweets

Greeley Pulitzer

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No virus cover-up, PM tweets | The Thaiger
PHOTO: CNN file photo

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha went on Twitter yesterday, in an apparent bid to counter “fake news,” and announced there is no COVID-19 coronavirus cover-up happening in Thailand. He insisted the government is neither hiding nor distorting the number of infections in the country and said citizens should “gain confidence” in its remarkable success managing the disease. Earlier in the day, Prayut had urged the public to stay calm and not share “fake news or hate speech” about the virus threat, “because everyone, especially medical personnel, will be working on it until the crisis has passed.”

Although several countries have expressed admiration for Thailand’s ability to stem the spread of the virus, some foreign experts on disease control have doubted the small numbers of confirmed and suspected cases officially reported. Thailand has reported a total of 35 confirmed cases, seventeen of whom have made full recoveries, and has reported no fatalities

“The situation in Thailand today is still in a range we can cope with, and the government will take care of all affected sectors of society.”

The PM came out of an afternoon meeting at Government House on the virus issue, saying the Cabinet will soon announce measures to support entrepreneurs who have been affected by the outbreak.

“Measures already taken have been able to control the situation effectively, but we plan to introduce more to help society cope and more again if the outbreak evolves to the next level. Meanwhile it’s important to shore up the production and distribution of protective facemasks, which is still falling short.”

Businesspeople, especially in the tourism sector, who’ve been hurt by the virus can count on state assistance, Prayut told reporters

“The virus has had an impact on all businesses, so we must resolve the problem in a comprehensive way. I thank all government agencies for their cooperation in helping solve these problems.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Coronavirus

Coronavirus cases more than double in South Korea to surpass 150

Greeley Pulitzer

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Coronavirus cases more than double in South Korea to surpass 150 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: South Korea's coronavirus cases doubled in a day to surpass 150 - Yonhap

South Korea has reported its first death from the COVID-19 corona virus. The government reports that a 63 year old man, who died Wednesday, tested positive for the virus in a post mortem examination. The exact cause of his death has yet to be determined. He died in North Gyeongsang province, where he had been hospitalized for over 20 years, according to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

A 10:30am today, the total number of infected people in South Korea stood at 156, with 70 of them in Daegu and nearby North Gyeongsang Province. Most of the cases have been traced to a church in the city that a 61 year old woman, confirmed as the country’s 31st patient on Tuesday, had attended. Daegu fears becoming Korea’s Wuhan, with largest cluster outside of China: in just 24 hours through yesterday afternoon, the area saw 53 new cases confirmed. Among the new cases, 39 people are linked with the Sincheonji Church of Jesus, a Christian sect to which the 61 year old woman, who tested positive Tuesday, belongs.

KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong said 1,001 church members who attended services with the woman are now in self-isolation at home. But the agency is leaning toward the possibility that the woman could have contracted the virus via a secondary infection. She is considered to be a potential “superspreader.”

In a phone survey conducted by health authorities, 90 church members indicated having symptoms so far, although 396 could not be reached.

President Moon Jae-in vowed to mobilise all available resources to Daegu during a phone conversation with Mayor Kwon Young-jin. The central government plans to send medical professionals and facilities to help the city deal with snowballing cases.

Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Kang-lip says the country is facing a new situation that requires a different response.

“At this stage, (the government) has judged that COVID-19, which has been flowing in from overseas, is spreading locally with a limited scope.”

He added that cases where the source of infection is unclear are emerging in Daegu and the capital, Seoul. There are at least 20 coronavirus patients whose transmission path is unknown.

South Korea is now one of the countries that has reported the highest tallies outside mainland China, along with Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

SOURCE: The Nation

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