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World News: Ivory siezure; Poison fumes hit pax at airport; Hit-and-runs kill 1, injures 13 in Wales

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World News: Ivory siezure; Poison fumes hit pax at airport; Hit-and-runs kill 1, injures 13 in Wales | Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Hong Kong confiscates 1,200 pieces of ivory tusks in record haul
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: More than 1,200 pieces of ivory tusks which were being smuggled in containers shipped from Africa were confiscated in Hong Kong last week, making it the region’s largest ever seizure of products from endangered species, customs officials said on Saturday.

The seizure followed a tip-off from police in mainland China, where seven people have since been arrested in connection with the case. During the operation, Hong Kong Customs confiscated a total of 1,209 pieces of ivory tusks and 1.4 kilograms (3 pounds) of ivory ornaments, weighing about 3,813 kilograms (8,406 pounds), inside two containers shipped from Tanzania and Kenya to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong authorities said the container from Tanzania, which was declared as containing plastic scrap, was seized on Tuesday. Upon examination of the contents, Customs officers found 972 pieces of raw ivory tusks, weighing about 1,927 kilograms (4,248 pounds), and 1.4 kilogram (3 pounds) of ivory ornaments inside 91 bags of plastics scraps.

A day later, Hong Kong Customs inspected a container from Kenya which was declared as containing rosecoco beans. Instead, the customs officers discovered 50 bags of “rosecoco beans” which in fact contained an additional 237 pieces of raw ivory tusks, weighing about 1,884 kilograms (4,153 pounds).

The record haul, worth about $26.7 million, is Hong Kong’s largest ever of products from endangered species.

Poisonous fumes sicken 53 people at Berlin airport
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: More than 50 people became ill Saturday when they were affected by poisonous fumes at a major airport in the German capital of Berlin, local authorities said. Dozens of people were taken to area hospitals but none of them were seriously injured.

The incident began at around 7am local time when employees and passengers at Berlin Tegel Airport, the main international airport for the city, reported experiencing nausea and sore eyes. The reports prompted authorities to close the airport’s inner lobby and terminal A.

Scores of emergency personnel rushed to the airport to investigate the source of the poisonous fumes.

“We investigated the situation to determine the cause and whether any dangerous substances were present,” said Ralf Kunkel, a spokesman for the airport. “We haven’t found anything and therefore believe cleaning products were responsible.”

Police said officers from their forensic department detected a high level of ammonia in the air, likely caused by employees who used the wrong mixture of disinfectant while cleaning overnight.

Kunkel said 53 people, including employees, passengers and firefighters who responded to the scene, reported feeling sick and were treated.

“Fortunately no one was seriously injured,” he said. “Of the 53 people who felt sick, some were treated at the airport. Thirty-eight others were transported to the hospital and were released after treatment.”

Both the airport’s inner lobby and terminal A were reopened later Saturday afternoon.

Road rampage leaves woman dead, injures 13 in Wales
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: A woman was killed Friday and more than a dozen others were injured when a man deliberately drove his van into groups of pedestrians in the Welsh capital of Cardiff, police said. A suspect has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

The hit-and-run incidents happened between 3:30pm and 4pm local time when the van drove into the pedestrians at five different locations in the city.

A 31-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder just after 4pm when officers stopped the van near Penarth, about 5 miles away. His motive for the attacks was not immediately known.

“Unfortunately, and tragically… a 32-year-old female has lost her life,” Superintendent Julian Williams of South Wales Police said during a news conference. “Our thoughts are obviously with her family and our family liaison officers are with [them] at the moment.”

Thirteen other pedestrians were injured by the hit-and-run incidents, including nine people who were still receiving treatment yesterday at the University Hospital of Wales. Two of the adults remain in a critical but stable condition while five children may be released later today (Sunday).

Police were also investigating reports that the driver assaulted several people outside his vehicle during the rampage. “A number of the victims have been struck by the vehicle [but] there is [also] witness evidence to suggest that the person we have in custody has physically assaulted people outside of the vehicle,” a police spokesman said, adding that a weapon may have been involved.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Transport

Travelling from the UK? Here’s some details on restrictions….

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Travelling from the UK? Here’s some details on restrictions…. | Thaiger
Stock photo of London Heathrow Airport via Flickr

As the summer holiday is just around the corner, many in the UK are wondering if and how they will travel abroad during the Covid pandemic. Despite it being against the law to travel abroad for holiday and leisure in the UK, those who need to travel may want to know what requirements certain countries have in order to enter.

Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Indonesia, are some of the popular places that travellers need to visit, and here we have the latest updates on requirements from those nations.

Australia

After locking down borders early, Australia has spent most of last year living a more normal life than those in the UK have, seeing significantly fewer Covid infections and deaths. But part of why they have been more successful is due to the tough travel measures that are still in place. The country currently is closed to outsiders, except for Australian citizens, permanent residents, or those with an exemption.

If travellers do fall into those categories, they must undergo a 14 day mandatory quarantine on arrival at a designated facility, like a hotel. And, even if you are inside Australia wanting to depart, the strict guidelines apply to those leaving the country as well. Only those with an exemption are able to leave Australia and there has been no indication as to when the country will relax the rules for coming and going. Experts do say that the country may not return to pre-pandemic levels of free travelling until 2024.

New Zealand

New Zealand is another country that has succeeded in tackling the pandemic early on, as most residents are living quite normally. Again, the strict guidelines that were in place are still ongoing as the country is closed to almost all arrivals. Those who are allowed in, must present evidence of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departing their country of residence.

But, good news is coming later this month as NZ will enter a travel bubble with Australia, allowing its people to travel between the 2 nations without needing to undergo a quarantine.

Thailand

Thailand was also considered to be succesful in combatting the Covid virus, until a 2nd and 3rd wave rocked the country, with experts saying it could be the worst yet to come. As the nation is planning to reopen fully in October, with an even earlier opening in July for its tourist-laden island of Phuket, arrivals still must undergo quarantines of up to 10 days. The quarantine time period depends on where you are entering in the country, as well as whether or not you have been fully inoculated against the Covid virus.

Other restrictions include where you are coming from prior to entering the country, as certain nations with Covid variants may still be required to undergo the full length of the original 14 day quarantine, or could be denied entry altogether.

Indonesia

Since the beginning of this year, all non-Indonesian travellers are currently banned from entering the country, with only a few exemptions in place. Any travellers allowed to enter must provide evidence of a negative Covid test and follow mandatory quarantine arrangements once landing.

The country is currently administering China’s Sinovac vaccine, which has faced criticism over its low effectiveness rates. But, Indonesia has lost 75% of its tourism in 2020, a figure that its government is surely to tackle in the near future.

SOURCE: MyLondon.news

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

US pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after “rare and severe” blood clots

Maya Taylor

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US pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after “rare and severe” blood clots | Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

Health officials in the United States have decided to pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine while they investigate a number of cases of “rare and severe” blood clots. According to a CNN report, a 45 year old woman has died and another patient is in critical condition. In total, there were 6 blood clot incidents, out of more than 6.8 million vaccine doses administered. All of the cases involved female patients between the ages of 18 and 48, with symptoms developing between 6 to 13 days after inoculation.

Speaking to CNN, Dr Carlos del Rio from Emory University School of Medicine says that such side-effects are extremely rare, pointing out that they’re more likely to be observed outside clinical trials, due to the larger number of people involved.

“It’s a very rare event. You’re talking about 1 per million, and when you give millions of doses of vaccines, you will see events like this that you couldn’t see in the clinical trial just because you didn’t have millions of people enrolled.”

He adds that blood clotting may be occurring for the same reason seen with the AstraZeneca vaccine, given that both jabs are adenovirus vector vaccines. The other vaccines in use in the US – Pfizer and Moderna – are mRNA vaccines.

Peter Marks from the US Food and Drug Administration agrees that there appear to be similarities between the incidents of blood clots reported with both the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines.

“The AstraZeneca is a chimpanzee adenoviral vector vaccine. The Janssen is a human adenoviral vector vaccine. We can’t make some broad statement yet, but obviously they are from the same general class of viral vectors. We don’t have a definitive cause, but the probable cause that we believe may be involved here – that we can speculate – is a similar mechanism that may be going on with the other adenoviral vector vaccine. That is that this is an immune response that occurs very, very rarely after some people receive the vaccine and that immune response leads to activation of the platelets and these extremely rare blood clots.”

Janssen is the vaccine arm of Johnson & Johnson. Yesterday, the manufacturer issued a statement confirming a decision to delay the European rollout of its Covid-19 vaccine. The statement goes on to say that anyone who has already received the jab and experiences a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within 3 weeks of being inoculated should see a doctor. However, it adds that such side effects are extremely rare.

Last month, the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine became the third jab to be approved for emergency use in Thailand.

SOURCE: CNN

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

WHO says pandemic reaching critical levels in South Asia

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WHO says pandemic reaching critical levels in South Asia | Thaiger
Stock photo via World Bank Blogs

Despite vaccines being rolled out, the WHO is warning that the Covid-19 pandemic has reached a “critical level” in South Asia as infections keep rising. The virus has already taken 2.9 million lives, infecting 136 million worldwide and the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, says the “trajectory of this pandemic is growing…exponentially.”

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic when we have proven control measures. We are at a critical point of the pandemic right now.”

The US is still the country with the most amount of infections, but India has recently taken the number 2 spot over Brazil, reporting 168,000 new cases in 1 day. India’s total amount of infections is now at 13.5 million, edging Brazil’s 13.48 million into the number 3 spot.

But a race among nations for Covid infections is not what the WHO – or anyone for that matter – is wanting. 28 year old Rohit, a waiter in Mumbai, seems to say that the race won’t end if people continue to not listen to safety protocols.

“The solution is for everyone to stay home for two months and end this (pandemic) once and for all. But the public doesn’t listen. Nobody follows the rules in the restaurant… If we tell customers to wear masks, they are rude and disrespectful to us.”

Ignoring the social – distancing rules has experts up in arms as they warn that huge, mass gatherings are what we all thought they were: a super spreader event for Covid-19.

But the Indian government appears desperate to avoid a repeat of last year’s nationwide March shutdown which saw some of the world’s toughest measures causing misery all around. Thus, the balance between managing a country’s overall health and financial situation is a tedious one.

Bangladesh has chosen health, for now, as it is shuttering both international and domestic airports from tomorrow. Its population of 160 million people, will be sealed off from the rest of the world.

And, in Thailand, a 3rd wave has hit, making plans for a full reopening by October, seem to be in vain. Social distancing and mass gatherings are, again, to blame, as entertainment venues sparked the recent spread. As normally tourism-heavy destinations, like the Andaman island of Phuket, are rapidly inoculating its residents to prepare for a July reopening, the new wave has dampened hopes of reviving the economy.

For now, the efforts to contain the Covid pandemic have been futile worldwide, but history has a habit of repeating itself, especially when safety protocols fall on deaf ears.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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