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The Covid-19 thread


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So easy, a believer in Science, coulda done it...

Seems to be Covid19 new in many different threads. So as it looks like, it's not just one or two countries anymore, here's a basket to gather all the Covid-19 news. Thai and others.

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Virus kills member of council advising Iran’s supreme leader https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/02/virus-kills-member-of-council-advising-irans-supreme-leader.html

A member of a council that advises Iran’s supreme leader died Monday after falling sick from the new coronavirus, state radio reported, becoming the first top official to succumb to the illness striking both citizens and leaders of the Islamic Republic.

The death of Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, came as Iran announced the virus had killed 66 people among 1,501 confirmed cases in the country. In two days, the number of confirmed cases has more than doubled, showing the spiralling crisis of the outbreak as Iran says it is preparing to mobilise 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to confront the virus...

I wonder if they'll be using the Science bullets or the Religion bullets to defeat the Virus....

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Africa readies for new virus as cases confirmed on continent  https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/02/03/2020/Africa-readies-for-new-virus-as-cases-confirmed-on-continent

DAKAR, Senegal:  Across Africa, steps are being taken to prepare for - and to reduce the effects of - the spread of the new coronavirus. Testing laboratories are being supplied, quarantine and hospital treatment facilities are being readied for patients, and public health advisories have been issued.

As of Monday, the continent of 1.2 billion people has eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 - three in Algeria, two in Egypt, one in Tunisia, one in Nigeria and one in Senegal. The case in Senegal was a French citizen who resides in Senegal and who had recently returned from France.

But 13 of Africa's 54 countries have been identified by the World Health Organization as at risk of becoming centers for the disease on the basis of volume of traffic between China and weak health surveillance and treatment systems...


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Middle Earth and the Pacific

Coronavirus tests: NZ pair showing symptoms 'consistent with Covid-19  ' https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12313290

Covid-19: Samoa reduces flights from NZ   https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/410681/covid-19-samoa-reduces-flights-from-nz


There're going to be a lot of people, who will be devastated to find that their Jesus phone and a cheap paper mask, won't protect against the virus...



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Outrage over mask shortages

People are crying foul over the shortage of masks amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, triggered by the death of a Thai man who was diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus.

Public complaints grew louder on Monday over the continuing lack of masks on the back of heightened concerns over the spread of Covid-19, which claimed the life of the 35-year-old man on Saturday night -- the first reported death from the virus in the country.

One more infection was reported on Monday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 43. The new patient was a 22-year-old Thai woman, who worked as a tour guide along with an already infected Thai, a driver for foreign tourists.

The Private Hospital Association also said their medical personnel have been seriously affected by the mask shortage.

The Bangkok Post on Monday conducted a survey of drug stores in Suan Luang, Prawet and Lat Krabang districts, and spoke to pharmacists and owners, who all said their stocks ran out almost a month ago and did not know when fresh supplies would be available again.

He said the number of people looking for these items at his store has skyrocketed since Thailand reported its first coronavirus death.

"Hundreds of customers visit my shop each day. They keep asking for masks and hand gels, even though I have already put up a sign outside the door. Some have even wanted to 'reserve' them in advance and asked me to contact them once masks and gels are available," he said.

Another pharmacist at a drug store near Suan Luang Rama IX said her pharmacy had also ran out of masks and hand sanitisers weeks ago and that she has not been able to order new stock.

"I've asked my suppliers to send more masks and hand gels to my shop, but they said demand is far outpacing the manufacturers' ability to produce them," she said.

Exploiting the situation, many online shops have started advertising masks at exorbitant prices.

An N-95 protective mask -- which normally retails at between 80-95 baht -- is being sold online for 190-220 baht apiece.

Meanwhile, a simple green-and-blue mask which costs 4 baht at a pharmacy, is being sold online at 15-20 baht each.

The owner of another large pharmacy in the Lat Krabang area said some customers have asked why her pharmacy is all out of masks and gels, when these items are still available online.

"I don't know what to tell them, as I don't know how these online retailers manage to get their hands on these items when we can't," she said.

"Perhaps producers are realising they can make more money selling online than to pharmacies, because pharmacies are subject to controls by the authorities and we can't overcharge customers."

Disappointed people finding local stores are out of masks are starting to blame authorities for the shortages.

Prommet, 29, an office worker who only gave his first name, said while the government has already made masks a price-controlled product with a fixed price of 2.5 baht apiece, fewer people can find them for that price. In reality, most people pay 15-30 baht for each mask.

"It is unacceptable the government has let this mark shortage go on, not to mention the inflated prices. Those at Government House should do better," he said.

He urged the government and related agencies to force manufacturers to increase the production of masks to meet demand.

The government has already tried to assure people that masks are being adequately and fairly distributed nationwide.

The Commerce Ministry, for instance, is imposing penalties on shops and sellers who jack up the prices of masks for a quick profit.

Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said the demand for masks has surged fivefold from normal levels.

He said authorities will review their distribution methods because Thai manufacturers only have the capacity to make 1.35 million masks a day.

Mr Whichai also said that raw materials from China have been in short supply and producers have had to import most of them from Indonesia, which consequently raises production costs.

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has instructed the department to dispatch 111 mobile outlets to sell the masks directly to people across the country starting from Thursday, said Mr Whichai.

He said 21 mobile outlets will be located in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, while the rest will be in other provinces.

Each mobile outlet will sell about 10,000 masks each day and they will move to various locations so more people will have access to the masks. One person will be able to buy a pack of four masks at 2.5 baht each.

"The outlets' locations will posted on the department's website," he said.

People who find any sellers who sell masks at inflated prices can inform the department at 1569, he noted.

So far, 51 people have been caught selling masks at inflated prices. They are subject to up to seven months in prison and a maximum fine of 140,000 baht, Mr Jurin said.





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Factory recycling used face masks as new raided in Saraburi

A recycling factory that sold used face masks as new ones was raided by police in Saraburi province on Monday.

Somsak Kaewsena, Wihandaeng district chief officer, said that he and police officers from Wihandaeng Police Station raided a recycling factory in Nongsuong subdistrict following a tip-off that the facility illegally recycled used face masks.

Police found six workers sorting out used face masks and ironing them before folding them in boxes to look like new, unused ones. One of the workers reportedly told the police that they received used face masks from a dealer and therefore did not know the real origin.


“Workers said they got paid at Bt1 per piece, while they recycled around 300-400 masks per day per person,” said Samsak.

Officials seized all face masks and sent some samples to the Ministry of Commerce to investigate the origin. “I have also contacted Wihandaeng Public Health Office to press charges at the police station as a plaintiff against the factory, as its operation could jeopardise the health of people who buy the used face masks as well as those in the community near the factory,” added Somsak.



Had to happen sooner or later.

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'Little ghosts' spark virus fears

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will call an urgent meeting on Wednesday to discuss what to do about 10,000 illegal Thai workers he believes may try to return home from South Korea to escape the Covid-19 epidemic there.

The move came after the Ministry of Public Health on Monday expressed serious concerns about how to handle droves of so-called phi noi (little ghosts) from South Korea after 138 Thais who were airlifted from Wuhan in China last month had to spend two weeks in quarantine in Sattahip.

It remains to be seen how many will be allowed to return home, Gen Prayut said, adding that South Korea will quarantine the workers for 14 days before letting them return to Thailand, and when they arrive in Thailand, they can expect another 14 days of likely self-quarantine.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said the South Korea Immigration Office passed on information that more than 5,000 Thais reported to the office from December last year to March 1 wishing to return home.

"The problem is how to control such a large number of people if all of them are to be quarantined. The government must find proper measures. I realise that the people are not confident and scared ... But public health officials and medical personnel are well-prepared," the prime minister said.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Tuesday the ministry will propose an action plan to handle Thai workers returning from the South Korean city of Daegu to the meeting.

Although the prime minister said there are 10,000 phi noi in South Korea, some estimates put the number much higher at 140,000.

Under the plan, a special zone will be arranged at Suvarnabhumi airport to screen the Thai returnees. Those displaying any symptoms will be sent to hospital immediately while those with no signs of the virus will be asked to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days, Mr Saksayam said.

He went on to say that he has instructed the Land Transport Department and the Transport Co to provide free buses to take asymptomatic workers home.

"The reason why we will not be able to quarantine Thai passengers [from South Korea] in a specific area, similar to the process for the Wuhan returnees is that the number is very much larger. We have no space to accommodate them," Mr Saksayam said.

He also said that the Transport Ministry will ask national carrier Thai Airways International and private airlines to consider whether it is possible for them to send aircraft to fly Thais in Daegu back home free of charge.

Earlier in the morning on Tuesday, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul briefly showed an announcement signed by him on his Facebook page with a message that all visitors from nine countries and two territories as high-risk zones will be required to quarantine themselves for 14 days with no exceptions.

The 11 countries and territories are Japan, Germany, South Korea, China, Taiwan, France, Singapore, Italy, Iran, Hong Kong and Macau.

However, the post was deleted minutes later without explanation. The ministry later claimed the measures would be clarified in a further announcement. As of press time no new information about these measures had been posted on the ministry's website.

In a related development, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon told reporters earlier there was no law in effect currently that can force anyone to isolate themselves.

Suchart Pornchaiwisetkul, director-general of the Department of Employment, said that Thai workers who return from countries hit by the Covid-19 are required to observe a 14-day self-quarantine.

He also said that South Korea has granted a reprieve to illegal workers who want to return home voluntarily, and they have to report to South Korean authorities by June 30.

Under the reprieve, South Korean authorities will not forward the names of these illegal workers to their governments to give them an opportunity to return to South Korea as legal workers, Mr Suchart said,

Public health volunteers working under the Ministry of Public Health will be asked to keep track of illegal workers who return from the world's second-worst Covid-19-hit country to make sure that their health statuses are all recorded accurately, according to Mr Suchart.

Dr Opart Karnkawinpong, chief of the Department of Medical Sciences who on Tuesday chaired the ministry's daily press conference, said that the ministry will ask public health volunteers countrywide to support the ministry's efforts to monitor those workers and make sure they adhere to the 14-day self-quarantine.

"We have one million public health volunteers who will play a key role in monitoring those suspected of having the virus at the local level. They can directly visit patients at home with useful suggestions.

"What we need now is the names of those workers so we can go and ring the bell at their homes."



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More than 1,100 Thai’s returning from South Korea before March 1st cannot be located

Thailand’s Ministry of Labour has expressed concern that the whereabouts of 1,181 Thai workers, who returned from South Korea between February 24th and March 1st, are currently not known and the ministry is seeking help from the Immigration Bureau to find them.

These workers returned in groups of up to 400 a week and are not among the 5,000 who have registered their desire to return to Thailand with South Korean immigration officials.  They returned to Thailand before the Public Health Ministry rolled out more stringent screening on March 1st.

Labour department deputy permanent secretary Mrs. Thienrat Nawamawat told the media today that 5,248 Thai workers returned from South Korea between December and the end of February, adding that, of that number, the whereabouts of 1,181 are not currently known.

According to the Immigration Bureau, eight Thais, who returned on March 2nd, were isolated for further health checks, before entering 14 days of home quarantine, and two were sent to a hospital for further laboratory tests and observation.


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