Posts Tagged ‘pandemic’

China Is Being Affected By Rise of COVID-19 Infection Rates in Myanmar

July 29, 2021

The number of new COVID-19 cases in China is increasing every day, owing to an outbreak in Yunnan province, which shares a border with Myanmar, where the Delta variant of the coronavirus has spread.
The National Health Commission reported 65 new confirmed cases for July 19, compared with 31 a day earlier. It was the most since January 30, 2021, when 92 new cases were reported.
Most of the new cases were imported infections, with Yunnan reporting 41 new cases originating from abroad. All of the cases involved Chinese nationals who had recently returned from Myanmar.
The current outbreak of cases is spreading into two small towns in China’s Yunnan province, Ruili, and Longchuan.
As a result of its fourth outbreak since the pandemic started, Ruili reported seven locally transmitted cases on July 19, while Longchuan had one.
The overland transit point for Yunnan, which shares a border with Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam spanning 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles).
In Yunnan, the outbreak represents the second outbreak of the highly contagious Delta strain in China, following an outbreak in southern Guangdong province in May and June 2021.
As he visited Ruili on Sunday, Yunnan vice-governor Zong Guoying promised to build a “fortress of iron” to stop further transmissions.
Xishuangbanna, which shares a long and porous border with Myanmar, has set up checkpoints on all roads to inspect incoming and outgoing traffic.
The police said that travel outside of Xishuangbanna’s urban center of Jinghong was discouraged, and special permits were also required to enter neighboring cities Lincang and Puer, as well as Ruili, when Reuters visited recently.
China reported 19 asymptomatic Coronavirus cases on July 19, 2021, up from 17 a day earlier. Asymptomatic infections are not counted as confirmed cases in China.
China now has 92,342 cases of COVID-19, with 4,636 deaths.

AztraZeneca Thailand Writes Letter To The People Of Thailand

July 25, 2021

Covid-19 infections in Thailand have exploded out of control, and bad news keeps coming out of the vaccine supply and distribution chains, so the managing director of AstraZeneca Thailand penned an open letter to the people of Thailand. In it, he gave a brief overview of the manufacturing process, the efforts made to supply more vaccines, and some encouragement to the Thai public.
As James Teague begins his letter, he acknowledges the tough circumstances Thailand faces in the face of Covid-19, with rising infection numbers and widespread outbreaks of the more contagious and somewhat vaccine-resistant Delta variant. AstraZeneca, according to the letter, communicates continuously with the Department of Disease Control about the situation and how best to help and reiterates its commitment to manufacturing vaccines as quickly as possible.
To make the AstraZeneca vaccine, living ingredients have to be grown and harvested, which is a difficult process. Unlike a synthetic process, the exact amount of usable material cannot be guaranteed, so the outcome can be unpredictable. Especially in a new supply chain just getting started, Teague emphasized this.
According to AstraZeneca, they should be able to produce 5 to 6 million vaccines per month for Thailand, barring any disruption to the supply chain. Thus far, they have delivered 9 million vaccines and will give the Ministry of Public Health an additional 2.3 million doses next week.
Taking advantage of the vaccine shortages and the growing threat from the Delta variant, AstraZeneca is optimizing the manufacturing process in Thailand’s domestic producer, Siam Bioscience, wholly owned by Crown Property Bureau. They believe they can increase production if they harvest the biological materials well. Moreover, the letter promises to search for any vaccines that could be diverted to Southeast Asia by the AstraZeneca global supply chain of more than 20 manufacturers.
Teague then reiterated AstraZeneca’s commitment to fighting Covid-19, which he says they do for the benefit of the global population without turning a profit. In a new Canadian study, AstraZeneca vaccines are 87% effective in preventing death and hospitalization. He also praised the generosity of Thai people, citing a poll showing a third of all Thai people have donated to people in need during Covid-19.
In the letter’s closing statement, the author advocates uniting to spread education and vaccines throughout Southeast Asia, which may be a subtle defense of the growing frustration people in Thailand have with all vaccine exports until they have access to AstraZeneca vaccines.

Thai Government Looking To Start An Andaman COVID-19 Sandbox Plan

July 21, 2021

On July 20, 2021, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced that Phangnga and Krabi are preparing to welcome back foreign tourists under the “Andaman Sandbox” scheme.
If all goes according to plan, the provinces that lie along the Andaman coastline will be the next to reopen to foreign tourists. Thailand debuted its sandbox model on July 1, while Samui Plus went live last Thursday.
According to TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn, the proposal for the Andaman Sandbox scheme will be submitted to the Centre for Economic Situation Administration on Wednesday for further consideration.
A TAT official in Phangnga has stated that tourists who have already visited Phuket, followed by a week in Phangnga or Krabi, would be permitted to visit Koh Yao, Koh Panyee, and the Khao Lak coastline if approved.
He said eligible tourists will be able to visit attractions along a specified route from Ban Nam Khem in Khao Lak to Koh Yao Noi-Yai and Koh Panyee in Ao Phangnga National Park.
Trackers provided by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the private sector will be used to monitor the tourists’ movements during their 14-day stay, similar to the one used in the Phuket Sandbox.
The Safety & Health Administration (SHA) has also certified more than 300 businesses providing hospitality services in the area, he said.
In the wake of their 14-day stay in Phuket, the first group of tourists under the Phuket Sandbox scheme made their way to Phangnga on Friday. Chuchart said more tourists are expected in late October.
According to Yuthasak, once the Andaman Sandbox has been approved, the TAT will ask to approve similar schemes in Chiang Mai, Buri Ram, Bangkok, Phetchaburi, and Prachuap Khiri Khan in time for October reopening.

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Over The Age Of 75 Expats in Thailand Are Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine in Bangkok

July 19, 2021

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently announced that ex-pats over 75 years old living in Thailand will now be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine in Bangkok. The announcement made recently will come into effect soon when Bang Sue Central Station will begin accepting qualified foreigners residing in Thailand for vaccination on a walk-in basis.
It was previously announced that foreigners would have vaccine opportunities soon, rumored to begin at the end of the month. But this new policy is a welcomed opportunity for some ex-pats to get vaccinated. In Thailand, finding information has been almost as arduous as getting a vaccine, with numerous registration programs like Mor Prom and ThailandIntervac.com launched and sometimes ending quickly amid confusion.
The lack of vaccine information and instruction often overwhelmed foreigners, and registration was often a frenzy as the few available appointments during the short registration periods were often grabbed by anyone who found out about it in time. Some provinces never even created a system for foreigners to register, while others had their own systems with varying levels of success for applicants.
Foreigners over 75 living in the Bangkok area – which is currently under strict red zone lockdowns – can now get a vaccine. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains the requirements and process of getting vaccinated by the Director-General of the Department of Information.
The program starts on July 19 and runs indefinitely at gates 2, 3, and 4 of the Bang Sue Central Station in Bangkok. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. To avoid crowds, the vaccination center strongly recommends coming early.
In order to receive a vaccination, foreigners must show proof that they are a resident foreigner in Thailand rather than a tourist. You can prove your residency by using retirement or resident visa, a house registration, or a work permit. You will also need your passport. This offer is only available to those who have never been vaccinated before, so anyone with one or two doses of another vaccine previously is not eligible.

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Thai Officials Want To Arrest People For Fake COVID-19 News

July 14, 2021

False claims regarding Covid-19 are being attacked by Thai authorities. Since last month, the Anti-Fake News Centre of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society reported more than 50 cases of fake news, most involving Covid-19 or vaccines. The cases are now being investigated by the police. Posters and sharers of misleading information that threatens national security or causes public panic can be punished under Thailand’s Computer Crime Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a fine up to 100,000 baht.
Following the government’s request last month for Bangkok residents to avoid travel and work from home, more misleading posts were made, Royal Thai Police deputy spokesperson Krisana Pattanacharoen said, adding that people are spending more time on social media.
In the over 50 cases of fake news being investigated, over 30 cases are related to Covid-19… Posters of fake news that provoke confusion or panic are prohibited by law and are subject to five years of imprisonment, a fine of THB100,000.
The Anti-Fake News Centre has fact-checked a variety of claims widely shared on social media. It was reported that a government tax increase increased the price of Moderna Covid-19 by 100%. There is no truth to the claims, according to the Thai Customs Department. One source claimed PM Prayut Chan-o-cha received four injections of the Covid-19 vaccine. It is also not true.

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The Phuket COVID-19 Sandbox Program Starts Today

July 1, 2021

On July 1, 2021, the Phuket Tourism Sandbox, a pilot phase of Thailand’s ambitious tourism reopening plan, will open on the resort island amid hope and fear.

Many businesses rely heavily on tourism to boost their profit margins, but locals fear that the pro-tourism program may result in a new outbreak of Covid-19.

In the third quarter of this year from July to September, Phuket is expected to attract over 100,000 foreign tourists, generating about 8.9 billion baht in tourism revenue.

Four hundred twenty-six passengers and three thousand sixteen hundred outbound travellers will use 426 flights in July. Anucha Burapachaisri, a government spokesman, said the southern island province will average 13 flights per day.

According to Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), 249 tourists are scheduled to arrive in Thailand Thursday on flights from Israel, Abu Dhabi and Qatar under the Phuket Sandbox programme.

He said the tourists will remain in Phuket for at least 14 days, during which they will undergo two more Covid-19 tests to ensure they are free of Coronavirus.

Phuket hopes to strike a balance between driving the economy with tourism and controlling the spread of Covid-19 from July 1, according to provincial governor Narong Wunsiew.

According to him, foreign visitors arriving in Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox programme are not the ones worrying the province when it comes to outbreak containment. Those who will arrive in the province by land from within Thailand.

The Chatchai security checkpoint, the main Covid-19 checkpoint on the road leading to Phuket, still needs more staff and technology to ensure that everyone entering the island is thoroughly screened, he said.

“Only those with proof of vaccination against Covid-19 will be allowed into Phuket,” he said.

Under the tourism sandbox programme, Patong beach appears to be the most popular destination for foreign tourists.

He said 1,671 visitors had booked 383 rooms at hotels in the Patong beach area.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will visit Phuket on July 1, 2021.

On arrival at Phuket international airport, he will greet and welcome foreign tourists and visit the security checkpoint.

Local health group president Manot Saithong said that according to an online survey of 1,112 residents, the most common concern is that tourists under the tourism sandbox programme could bring a more virulent variant of the coronavirus into the province and cause a new outbreak.

Foreign tourists also have doubts about whether they will strictly follow the control measures imposed on them by Covid-19, Manot said.

Thailand has also raised doubts over the effectiveness of Covid-19 screening among Thai tourists, he said, adding that if a new outbreak occurs in Phuket, young people will be affected since they are the only group of the population without vaccination.

Don Limnanthaphisit, president of a club of residents in Phuket’s old town, has called for stricter Covid-19 screening at all schools for students who may have contracted the virus from their parents who might have contracted it from tourists.

Thanusak Phuengdet, president of Phuket’s Chamber of Commerce, estimates that 13 billion baht will be generated in tourism-related income if all 100,000 foreign tourists who have already booked their visits to Phuket in the next three months actually come, he said.

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Bangkok Business Associations Don’t Like The Latest COVID-19 Lockdown

June 27, 2021

As a result of the government’s recent announcement of a one-month closure of construction camps, the Federation of Thai Industries and many other business associations complained that the action was too weak. According to the FTI and other business groups, a full lockdown is necessary to control Covid-19 outbreaks in Bangkok and half-measures like this are at best ineffective.
In addition to the federation, many businesses are dissatisfied with the government’s failure to control the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Thailand and the lack of a lockdown. FTI’s chairman said the targeted closures wouldn’t reduce overall infection rates, as the root problem is not being addressed in Thailand.
Currently, mass vaccination of the public is the most crucial effort.
A spokesperson from the Tourism Council of Thailand says that a flattening of the incline is needed and that a strict lockdown is the best strategy. Tourism activities have been suspended for over a year, and reopening and partial actions will only prolong the suspension. As the number of cases soars and hospital beds are nearly full, the tourism business group says the only long-term solution is to lock down and eradicate the virus.
There is a need for decisive and consistent action, not only to control Covid-19, but also to inspire faith and collaboration in the Thai people. A strong lockdown needs to be accompanied by financial aid, such as using social security to pay 62% of salaries during closures.
Employers’ Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry has also endorsed a lockdown in Bangkok, arguing that the government should listen to doctors and medical professionals struggling to cope with a surge in infections and close Bangkok for at least one week. It will hurt the economy in the short term, but getting Covid-19 under control will have a tremendous effect on the long-term economy.
The Thai Real Estate Association is also in favor of the lockdown, arguing that their business won’t be harmed by a lockdown since the market is so slow already, but they are harmed by the endless Covid-19 infections. As people wait for Bangkok to control Covid-19, they look to move out of the city to other provinces, damaging the property market.
Despite continued Covid-19 infections in Bangkok, Asia Plus Securities predict a negative investment market next week. It is understandable that the government is concerned that a lockdown will only drive people out of Bangkok since business sectors will shut down and people won’t have jobs. Bangkok residents fleeing the city will carry Covid-19 infections with them.
However, Asia Plus Securities believes that the government’s weaker response could only prolong the pandemic. Business associations agree on their solution: a swift and strict lockdown now and a rapid acceleration of Thailand’s sluggish vaccine rollout.

Thai Bits: New Thai Government Policies Regarding COVID-19 and Land Ownership

June 22, 2021

Phuket COVID-19 Plan Will Be Applied To Other Parts of Thailand

Other areas are looking at ways to open as well, especially as the Phuket sandbox plan remains on track to open on July 1 to vaccinated tourists from low-risk countries. CCSA members approved in principle opening the sealed routes on three islands — Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao — to join the reopening plan on July 15, with tourists spending one week in Phuket before coming directly to Samui.
Samui visitors who fly to the island will have to follow additional restrictions: they must stay at alternative local quarantine hotels and spend three days on the hotel premises before being allowed to travel on sealed routes on Samui between days 4 and 7. From days 8 to 14, they can visit Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Recently, eight major tourism associations proposed a plan that would allow vaccinated visitors to travel across Chon Buri’s two mainland districts, Bang Lamung and Sattahip, with safeguards and restrictions on Aug 1, 2021.
The Prime Minister announced in mid-October that vaccinated foreign tourists could return to the country. However, only provinces with a vaccination rate of 70% in the general population and 100% in the service industry would be considered.

There Could Be New Land Ownership Policy Soon

A recent leak of plans to change land ownership in Thailand may only be temporary while the economy is suffering from the pandemic, and is still under consideration. According to one proposal, condo owners could own between 70 percent and 80 percent of their units. A maximum of 49 percent of foreign owners will be allowed to vote at owners’ meetings.
A second proposal allows foreigners to buy homes worth between 10-15 million baht and restricts foreign ownership in housing developments to 40 percent. There is also the possibility of changing the term of the land lease from 30 to 50 years, with an option to extend for another 40 years.
Companies that are more than 49 percent owned by foreigners are not allowed to purchase or own land unless a Foreign Business Licence has been granted by the Board of Investment or they are exempt under a treaty such as the treaty of amity for Americans. The Treaty of Amity allows Americans to own their own businesses outright, as well as to own property.
BOI companies that purchase land have one year after the promoted business ends to sell or dispose of the land. Thai citizens may purchase and own land through limited companies that are majority-owned by Thai citizens, however, the government does require that these companies be actively trading businesses with legitimate investors rather than shell companies created for the sole purpose of buying land.

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The Thai COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout Is Already Failing

June 14, 2021

Things have gotten a bit messy recently. After only a week of the government’s national vaccine rollout, it has already run into problems at Bangkok’s Bang Sue Grand Station. Both public and private hospitals are postponing appointments due to a shortage of vaccines, the media reports.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul blamed the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the BMA blamed the Health Ministry.

Kiattiphum Wongrachit from the Ministry of Health admits the country has received fewer vaccine doses than expected this month. Hospitals have rescheduled appointments due to the shortfall, with most of the affected elderly and people with underlying health conditions booked through the Mor Prom app. A Bangkok hospital turned to social media to suggest who should be held responsible.

The call center can answer your questions regarding this (postponement). You can also contact the public health minister (directly) as to why the delay occurred.”

During a television interview, Anutin blamed the BMA, saying that his ministry had already delivered 500,000 doses to City Hall.

The ministry has already distributed all vaccine supplies received from the suppliers to eligible parties as instructed by the CCSA on time. Please don’t claim the ministry isn’t doing anything.

In response, the BMA said that the Health Ministry had promised 2.5 million AstraZeneca doses, of which only 350,000 have been delivered, in addition to 150,000 Sinovac doses.

Rural Doctors Society, which previously condemned the government for not keeping the public informed about vaccine supply issues, has also stepped into the fray, placing the blame squarely on Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, the head of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Thai Bits: Some Schools Will Not Open On June 14th, Bangkok District Officials: SIlom Market COVID-19 Infections Are Being Exaggerating

June 11, 2021

Some Schools Will Not Be Open To Students On June 14th, 2021

The new school year will begin on June 14, 2021, but on-site learning will be prohibited in Bangkok and three neighboring provinces, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced June 10, 2021.
Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokesperson for CCSA, said the Education Ministry approved starting the new school year on June 14, 2021.
Classrooms will remain closed in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan, which will rely on remote learning for students.
Dr. Apisamai said the provincial communicable disease committees could halt the reopening of classrooms if an area was deemed unsafe due to transmission of Covid-19.
Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan are the areas hit hardest by the third wave of novel coronavirus disease.

Bamgkok District Believes That Number of People Infected From Silom Market Was Exagerated

The Bang Rak district office in Bangkok has denied reports that 310 people were infected with Covid-19 at the Lalai Sap market. The district is seeking vendors’ cooperation to suspend trading for 3 days between June 10 and June 12 2021 in order to conduct deep cleaning and mass testing. Silom market has been ordered indefinitely closed.
Recently, the district office said on its Facebook page that there have been just 13 infections at the market on Silom Soi 5 since May 26, 2021. Nine members of the family were deemed at risk.
The Covid-19 virus will be tested on 1,000 people at the market on Friday between 9am and 2pm, as well as local residents, officials said.
The district has asked vendors at the market for their cooperation in suspending trading from June 10 to June 12 for deep-cleaning and mass testing.
People are being urged to stop sharing fake news and help spread correct information.