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Fortress Wuhan. Chinese authorities lock down the source of the coronavirus.

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Fortress Wuhan. Chinese authorities lock down the source of the coronavirus. | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wuhan is now effectively shut off from the rest of the world - Science Today
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Wuhan, a city of more than 10 million in the central Chinese province of Hubei, is effectively in lock down following a decisive attempt to isolate the source of the Novel Coronavirus.

Wuhan has ‘temporarily’ closed its airport, rail station and main roads out of the city. All city public transport services are all suspended too, as authorities scramble to contain the virus.

Chinese officials say they are adopting “Class A prevention and control measures”, usually rolled out for major outbreaks for serious medical situations, including cholera outbreaks. Chinese health officials now have sweeping powers to lock down affected areas and quarantine patients. China previously used such measures in 2009 to tackle an outbreak of H1N1.

China’s national health commissioner, Li Bin, says officials are aware of around 2,200 cases of “close contact” with known virus carriers. He also updated the situation saying that 715 patients have been discharged while more than 300 patients remain on medical watch.

The death toll from the new flu-like virus has now risen to 17, whilst dozens of additional cases emerge across China, and at least five other countries around the world, including the US, sparking fears of a possible pandemic. Chinese health officials report that at least 547 cases had now been confirmed in mainland China – eight new deaths have been linked to the virus in the Hubei province. Some of the most recent cases were confirmed in the Chinese territory Macao, and Taiwan.

Cases of the Novel Coronavirus have also been reported in South Korea, Thailand and Japan, and suspected cases detected in Australia. Globally, a total of 555 cases are now confirmed since the outbreak was detected in the middle of December.

The World Health Organisation’s emergency committee met in Geneva yesterday, but told reporters that more information and evidence was needed to upgrade the situation to a “public health emergency of international concern” at this stage.

Meetings of WHO scientists continue today.

The virus has been referred to as the Wuhan Virus, Chinese Coronavirus and Novel Coronavirus.

First detected in Wuhan, Hubei, in mid-December 2019, the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is in the same family of infections as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

SOURCE: CNN

Fortress Wuhan. Chinese authorities lock down the source of the coronavirus. | News by The Thaiger

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World

Anti-lockdown protests in the Netherlands turn violent, Covid-19 testing centre burnt down

Caitlin Ashworth

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Anti-lockdown protests in the Netherlands turn violent, Covid-19 testing centre burnt down | The Thaiger
Screenshot via The Independent

Violence broke out in the Netherlands and a Covid-19 testing centre was burnt down after a nationwide curfew was imposed over the weekend to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. In Eindhoven and Amsterdam, riot police deployed water cannons to disperse the crowds of anti-lockdown protesters.

The Netherlands has been under a tough lockdown since mid-December, leading to clashes between anti-lockdown protesters and police. Just last week, police in Amsterdam used the water cannon on hundreds of protesters. Local officials say the riot police had been called to break up the crowd because people weren’t abiding by social distancing measures.

On Saturday, a new 9pm to 4:30am curfew was imposed, tightening the already tough restrictions. As the curfew went into effect that night, rioters set fire to a portable coronavirus testing facility by a harbour in Urk, a fishing town around 80 kilometres northeast of Amsterdam. That night and early the next morning, 3,600 people in the Netherlands were fined for breaching the new curfew. Police say 25 people were arrested for breaching the curfew and violence.

Local officials say the riots in Urk were a “slap in the face, especially for the local health authority staff who do all they can at the test centre to help people from Urk.”

The next day, in the southern city Eindhoven, rioters threw rocks at police and set fires in the centre of the city. Riot police used water cannons and tear gas to break up the crowds. Rocks and shattered glass littered a central square in the city. At least 55 people were arrested, according to the Associated Press.

In the capital of Amsterdam, police used a water cannon to break up a group of anti-lockdown protesters. The Associated Press says more than 100 people were arrested.

SOURCE: Associated Press

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Crime

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sky News

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin is under arrest in the Netherlands after years of authorities chasing him worldwide. 57 year old Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian citizen, was arrested by Dutch police acting on a request by Australia’s federal police.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime named him as the suspected leader of the Asian mega-cartel known as “Sam Gor”, a major producer and supplier of methamphetamines worldwide. Tse is commonly compared to the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Sam Gor is suspected of laundering billions in drug money through businesses such as casinos, real estate and hotels in Southeast Asia’s Mekong region. Australia’s federal police said Friday’s arrest came after a 2012 operation that arrested 27 people linked to a crime syndicate spanning five countries. The groups was accused of importing large amounts of heroin and methamphetamine into Australia, according to police.

“The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime.”

The arrest of Tse Chi Lop almost 10 years after that operation’s launch is a major break for Australian authorities. The country’s attorney-general will now begin preparing a formal extradition request for the alleged drug lord to face trial.

Most of Asia’s meth comes from “Golden Triangle” border areas between Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and southwest China. The production of methamphetamine, either in tablet form or the highly potent crystalised “ice” version, take place in Myanmar’s eastern north Shan state. Ketamine and fentanyl are also produced there as well, mostly in ‘portable’ labs that hide underneath the thick rainforest canopy.

In 2018 alone, Thailand netted more than 515 million methamphetamine tablets, a number 17 times the amount for the entire Mekong region 10 years ago. Traffickers are constantly finding more creative ways to ship their products as drug busts are featured daily on the news in those regions.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Czech ‘Covid’ sniffer dogs can detect Covid-19 with a 95% success rate

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Czech ‘Covid’ sniffer dogs can detect Covid-19 with a 95% success rate | The Thaiger

Czech dog trainers say canines can sniff out Covid-19 with an astonishing 95% success rate. The team of trainers in Renda, a Czech mountain village, are working in their own time to teach the dogs to tell the difference between fake samples of Covid and real ones by sniffing pieces of cloth. Lenka Vlachova, a trainer who works at Prague’s fire brigade, says the cloths either feature a scent from patients with Covid-19 or from those that tested negative for the virus. They also say they there are cloths with fake samples of the virus that are part of the testing group.

The project head, Gustav Hotovy, says the study is designed to verify dogs’ ability to detect the virus and generate a method enabling the use of training dogs in combatting the pandemic.

“The method should also work with other diseases, even more lethal than Covid-19. In the end, we should be able to detect a huge number of people in a very short time with a trained dog.”

Hotovy, who is a retired cynologist, whose team started training the dogs last August, says the first study confirming that dogs are able to detect tissue attacked by a virus was conducted in the United States about 10 years ago.

“The virus changes the human tissue, affecting the scent signature of the person.”

He says that the signature changes so much that it is immediately picked up on by the dogs. The samples are gathered by rubbing a piece of cotton against the patient’s skin and then the team has to make sure the sample is virus-free to keep the dogs from catching the virus.

A Finnish team has also been using dogs to detect the virus at Helsinki airport, reporting its dogs can detect the virus with close to 100% accuracy.

SOURCE: Reuters

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