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Chinese scientists identify the ‘Wuhan Virus’. Screening continues on Thai-bound flights.

The Thaiger

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Chinese scientists identify the ‘Wuhan Virus’. Screening continues on Thai-bound flights. | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Screening continues at airports in Thailand receiving passengers from Wuhan in China
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The mysterious pneumonia-like disease striking dozens of people in Wuhan, China, has now been identified as from the same family of viruses as the deadly SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). This news from Chinese scientists today.

Earlier today The Thaiger reported that three Thais and a Chinese citizen had been detected arriving from Wuhan in the Hubei province with suspected viral symptoms comparable with a flu or viral pneumonia.

The scientists say they’ve found a new “coronavirus in 15 of 57 patients with the illness in the central city of Wuhan, saying it has been preliminarily identified as the pathogen for the outbreak”.

The news was reported on the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

“Coronaviruses” are a large family of viruses that can cause anything from the common cold (rhino virus) up to to SARS*. According to the WHO, some coronaviruses are able to transmit easily from person to person, while others can not.

The CCTV report went on to explain that the current ‘Wuhan Virus’, a coronavirus, appears to not be as lethal as SARS.

“Its symptoms are mainly fever, with a number of patients having difficulty breathing. Eight patients had recovered and been discharged from hospital as of Wednesday, and no deaths have been reported.” (Translated from CCTV)

This new viral outbreak was first detected in the city of Wuhan on December 12 last year. A total of 59 people have been identified as contracting the illness. Seven patients have been in a critical condition at some stage, according to Chinese health authorities. Authorities report that no healthcare workers have been infected.

Some of the patients were reported to have been employed at a seafood market in Wuhan. Local media reported the market also sold “other live animals, including birds, rabbits and snakes”. These reports sparked concerns that the virus might have been transmitted to humans from animals.

Six coronaviruses are known to infect humans — four of them typically cause the common cold, and the other two are SARS and MERS (the middle east respiratory syndrome, first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012).

SARS infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 in a pandemic that ripped through Asia and spread to 37 countries in 2002 and 2003.

In a statement today the World Health Organisation said that China’s preliminary identification of a “novel virus” in such a short period since its earliest identification, “demonstrates the country’s increased capacity to manage new outbreaks”.

Across Asia governments are now stepping up preventive measures such as airport temperature screening and requirements for notification in the wake of what is being referred to as the “Wuhan outbreak”.

Airports of Thailand says they are monitoring a the detection of any viral symptoms from Wuhan flights coming out of China. They say that six airports are now ready to cope with the situation by setting up international communicable diseases control checkpoints. Up to date four passengers – three Thai and one Chinese – have been detected and isolated pending further prognosis.

*World Health Organisation

Chinese scientists identify the 'Wuhan Virus'. Screening continues on Thai-bound flights. | News by The Thaiger

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Thailand

Indonesian and Thai foreign ministers meet with Myanmar counterpart, seek peace after coup

Caitlin Ashworth

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Indonesian and Thai foreign ministers meet with Myanmar counterpart, seek peace after coup | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

To seek a peaceful solution in Myanmar after the country’s military seized power, foreign ministers of Indonesia and Thailand met with the new, military-appointed foreign minister of Myanmar Wunna Maung Lwinat at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport for a brief, 20 minute discussion.

Both the Indonesian and Thai counterparts say they want peace, but the Indonesian foreign minister says Thailand has a “special position” to play because of its proximity to Myanmar and the number of Burmese nationals in Thailand. The Thai-Myanmar land border is 2,400 kilometres long. There are around 2 million Burmese people who live in Thailand.

With the elected civilian government pushed out and many political leaders arrested, including Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the election for state counsellor in a landslide and also served as the foreign minister, there have been daily protests in Myanmar. A strike on Monday shut a number of businesses. Burmese nationals living in Thailand have even held demonstrations in Bangkok. Some rallied outside the US Embassy in Bangkok, calling on the American government to step in.

The meeting between the 3 foreign ministers was the first overseas visit for a senior Myanmar official since the military coup on February 1. A spokesperson for the Thai Foreign Ministry, Tanee Sangrat, says the ministry insists on peace and stability in Myanmar and hopes to see the situation improve.

“It was also a good opportunity for Thailand to directly listen to Myanmar about issues that Myanmar prioritizes, as well as exchanging opinions on issues important to the people for both countries.”

At a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she asked her Myanmar counterpart to “prioritise the safety and wellbeing” of the people. She says all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations must respect the principles in the ASEAN Charter which outlines principles of democracy as well as protection for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“This shuttle diplomacy is surely not easy to do during the times of pandemic, but Indonesia has to do it because there are some principles that must be respected…Indonesia chooses not to stay silent…To do nothing is not an option.”

Indonesia has been pushing for a special ASEAN foreign ministerial session to discuss the Myanmar situation. Thai and Indonesian foreign ministers also discussed potentially holding an informal ASEAN meeting in August. The forum has not met in person since the Covid-19 pandemic.

SOURCE: Kyodo News

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Myanmar

Facebook shuts down Burmese military news page, accuses it of inciting violence

Maya Taylor

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Facebook shuts down Burmese military news page, accuses it of inciting violence | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AP

The “True News” social media page operated by the Burmese military has been shut down by Facebook, with the tech giant accusing it of inciting violence. Thai PBS World reports that the page was shut down yesterday as the authorities in Myanmar ramp up the violent response to citizens protesting the forced removal of leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The authorities continue to crack down on those protesting the coup and calling for the military to surrender power.

Suu Kyi is currently in custody alongside several members of her administration since February 1, when the army seized power in a bloodless coup. For its part, the military is insisting the power grab was lawful, claiming on its now-defunct Facebook page that Suu Kyi’s victory in November was the result of a fraudulent election. There have been a number of large protests in major Burmese cities since Suu Kyi’s removal. On Saturday, 2 people were killed when the army fired at protesters in the city of Mandalay. There have also been reports of nightly internet blackouts and authorities have banned several social media platforms.

For its part, Facebook says it has removed the Tatmadaw True News Information Team page for “repeated violations of our Community Standards prohibiting incitement of violence and coordinating harm”. It has removed hundreds of similar Burmese army pages in recent years, including content targeting the Rohingya Muslim population. Around 750,000 stateless Rohingya Muslims are living as refugees in Bangladesh after fleeing a 2017 military crackdown.

A year later, Facebook banned the Burmese junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, along with other senior army figures after a United Nations recommendation that they be charged with genocide following the massacre of countless Rohingya Muslims. Facebook has also banned the pages of insurgent groups fighting the Burmese military, as well as those run by Buddhist monks accused of provoking anti-Muslim violence.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Border officials on alert for Burmese coup protesters fleeing military crackdown

Maya Taylor

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Border officials on alert for Burmese coup protesters fleeing military crackdown | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

Border police have increased patrols in the northern province of Chiang Rai amid concerns that Burmese protesters may try to cross into the Mae Sai district. This follows a military crackdown in the Burmese border town of Tachilek as the army tries to quell anti-coup rallies.

According to a Bangkok Post report, Sompong Chingduang from Thailand’s Immigration Bureau says the authorities in Mae Sai continue to monitor the situation in Tachilek. On Saturday, 2 protesters were killed in the Burmese city of Mandalay after officials opened fire on demonstrators protesting the February 1 coup.

The following day, thousands rallied in the town of Myawaddy, on the border of the Mae Sot district in the Thai province of Tak, while another protest was held in Tachilek. The Tachilek protest led to the border between Thailand and Myanmar being shut for 2 hours. It’s understood the largest rallies yet are being planned for today.

Meanwhile, Sompong has issued a warning that nobody fleeing the military crackdown in Myanmar will be granted entry to Thailand but will instead be turned away from the border. He says to do otherwise would pose too much of a health risk for Thailand, given the Covid-19 situation.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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