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Hundreds of houses flood as Laos dam breached

Thaiger

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The Nation is reporting that hundreds of households in Laos were heavily flooded on Monday night after a large amount of water overflowed a saddle dam section of Xe Pian dam following heavy rainfall in the country’s southern province of Attapeu.

The disaster has reportedly claimed several lives, left hundreds of people missing and more than 1,300 families (6,600 people) homeless.

Photos posted on the Facebook page of ABC Laos News showed dozens of Laotian people stranded on the roofs of their houses and other buildings while others were shown being evacuated by boat.

The flooding took place around 8pm, the same day XePian XeNamnoy Power Company (PNPC), that constructed XePian dam, issued a warning of the possibility that water could overflow the dam.

In a the warning letter from the company’s head of resettlement, Lee Kan Yeol told his colleagues in Champasak and Attapeu provinces that “the saddle dam D was not safe and was in a very dangerous condition” due to heavy rainfall.

“If the section fails, over five thousand million tonnes of water would flow out and down the Xe Pian river,” read the letter.

Lee said the villagers living near the XePian River downstream from the dam should move to higher land to avoid “the unfortunate accident” caused by the heavy downpours.

Rescue teams in Laos were on Tuesday working to rescue those affected by the flooding.

Hundreds of houses flood as Laos dam breached | News by Thaiger Hundreds of houses flood as Laos dam breached | News by Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Testing increased in Singapore after unlinked Covid-19 cases

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Staff at Jewel Mall and both terminals of Singapore's Changi Airport will eb tested for Covid-19. (via Wikimedia)

Singapore, where there has been over 61,000 Covid-19 infections and 31 deaths, is increasing testing to find sources for recent unlinked infections. Over the past few weeks, new cases of Covid-19 have been cropping up without any apparent connection to known Coronavirus infections.

The Health Ministry of Singapore said yesterday that a junior college student and 3 staff members at Changi Airport all were identified as infected with Covid-19 with no known connection to any other cases. Thousands of tests will now be given to try to connect the dots and find other unidentified infections that may link these cases.

Every student, faculty, staff member and visitor to Victoria Junior College will be tested for Covid-19, as well as all the staff at both of Changi Airport’s terminals and the Jewel shopping mall. The testing for the junior college will encompass 2,200 people receiving swab testing, and over 100 people will be quarantined after being in close contact with the Covid-19 infected student. The details were confirmed by the Ministry of Education. The total number of people tested or isolated in the Singapore airport outbreak of unlinked infections has not yet been confirmed.

Singapore had been seeing positive trends in their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, but a few weeks ago, things began to change. In the last 2 weeks about unlinked 10 infections have surfaced in Singapore without any apparent connection to known Coronavirus cases, which creates a troublesome question of how many undetected cases are floating around the small country. New outbreaks have been cropping up and the dreaded Indian variant was found inside Singapore. After talks of a travel bubble, Singapore instated a quarantine for travelers from Thailand.

Yesterday health authorities responded to these new clusters and mysterious unlinked infections by imposing new safety measures and tightening social distancing protocolsin Singapore. Officials are hoping to regain control of Covid-19 spreading before it worsens to a point that they will have to reinstate the harsh lockdown rules put in place last year during the initial wave of Covid-19 in the world.

To learn about the current Covid-19 situation in ASEAN countries and South Asia, click here for The Thaiger’s roundup.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Once Covid-19 free, Cambodia eases lockdown amidst surge

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Cambodian medical workers address the new Covid-19 surge (via Flikr - IAEA Imagebank)

After remaining relatively unscathed during the global pandemic in 2020, Cambodia, like other countries in the region, is in the midst of a massive Covid-19 surge. As recently as late February, the country had only seen about 500 cases in their population of 16 million. But just two days ago, 650 new cases and 4 fatalities were recorded nationally. Cambodia has now had 17,621 Covid-19 cases and the highly contagious B.1.1.7. variant is now spreading in the country. For a nation that generally had zero infections per day, the outbreak that began at the end of February has often seen hundreds of new infections daily.

Until this new wave, Cambodia had managed to avoid a single Covid-19 death being recorded. But as of today, 114 people have died from the Coronavirus pandemic. The hospital system and medical facilities struggled to keep up with new patient care demand. On April 6, Prime Minister Hun Sen decreed that hospitals were nearing capacity and asymptomatic patients and those with only mild symptoms would be treated at home. The World Health Organisation, and their representative to Cambodia, warned nearly a month ago that the nation was on the brink of a national tragedy.

“Despite our best efforts, we are struggling to control the virus. Unless we can stop the outbreak, Cambodia’s health system is at high risk of being overwhelmed, which would have disastrous consequences.”

The Cambodian government imposed strict lockdowns starting April 15 in Phnom Penh and surrounding districts, labelling red zones with about 300,000 people living inside. Cambodia also has a 3-day New Year celebration falling on the same dates as Sri Lanka’s New Years and Thailand’s Songkran Festival and encountered the same problem of people taking holidays and travelling to be with their families, spreading Covid-19 as they went.

The lockdowns have been severe with extremely harsh penalties being threatened in an attempt to curb the spread of the newest Covid-19 outbreak in Cambodia. But some groups are warning that the humanitarian crisis is growing with the country strictly sealed off and people locked in their homes, preventing food and other necessities from being acquired. Facing criticism the Prime Minister ended the lockdown this week.

For now, vaccination seems to be the way out of this second wave crisis. The month of May brings an ambitious campaign to start in the worst infected areas and vaccinate about half a million Cambodians using the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccine manufactured by China. About 6 in every 100 people have been vaccinated in the country after 2.6 million jabs have been given.

Read about the current Covid-19 situation in countries around South and Southeast Asia: Cambodia, India, Indonesia, The Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

SOURCE: CNN

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 Indonesia: Indian variant, reused swabs, holiday travel ban

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Indonesian Covid-19 workers (via Flickr ILO Asia-Pacific)

Indonesia is experiencing an average of 5,000 new Covid-19 cases each day over the past week, and the Indian variant has now arrived as well. The Health Ministry confirmed this week that 2 patients had been infected by what has been identified as the B.1.617 variant of the Coronavirus, commonly known as the more contagious Indian strain. Indonesia is often somewhat of a sleeping giant as Asia’s third (and the world’s fourth) most populous nation but trailing India and China by about 1 billion people each. The country has seen 1.7 million Coronavirus infections and 46,496 fatalities due to Covid-19.

A recent scandal broke at Indonesia’s Medan Airport in North Sumatra as the employees at the state-owned Kimia Farma pharmaceutical company are accused of rinsing cotton swabs with alcohol and then repackaging them to be used for Covid-19 nasal swabs. Police suspect more than 9,000 people may have used these recycled swab kits which were sold to thousands of travellers.

The 5 employees have been fired for violating the health laws and consumer protection act, and the company may face civil lawsuits, especially if Covid-19 is spread through Indonesia because of the incident. Police are investigating if 1 employee built a new home using 1.8 billion Indonesian rupiahs (nearly 4 million baht) from the scam’s profits. 2 lawyers who may have used the swabs are already gathering victims for a class-action lawsuit seeking 1 billion rupiahs (about 2.2 million baht) per passenger.

Meanwhile, Indonesia faces a similar situation that caused Covid-19 outbreaks in Cambodia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka when people travelled on holiday and family visits for New Year’s holiday last month. Ramadan is coming to a close and millions of people traditionally travel to their hometowns to be with family for the Eid al-Fitr celebration. It is a Mudik holiday, which is one where people who have migrated away from their families return home to be together.

Indonesia banned all domestic travel between May 6 to May 17, but despite the Covid-19 spread, 7% of Indonesians, about 18 million people, said they were still planning on travelling for the holiday. The ban is more than just a cancellation of flights, train, buses, and ferries. It is a wide-sweeping edict that includes public and private journeys, so even motorcycles, personal cars, and private boats are forbidden to travel.

4,000 security personnel will be deployed to metropolitan Jakarta to enforce the restriction. 11,500 military personnel and 90,000 police officers are expected to be posted around the country, with about 155,000 people in total working to enforce the travel restriction.

The Indonesian government hopes that it can avoid further outbreaks for the country that already has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in Southeast Asia.

Read about the current Covid-19 situation in countries around South and Southeast Asia: Cambodia, India, Indonesia, The Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

SOURCE: The Guardian and CNN

 

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