Indian variant of Covid-19 confirmed in Thailand
Government considers widening ban on foreign arrivals throughout subcontinent
published : 10 May 2021 at 14:51
People gather to receive their coronavirus vaccine doses at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 28. (Reuters photo)
The Indian variant of Covid-19 has arrived in Thailand.
The variant was detected in a Thai woman and her young son arriving from Pakistan, prompting authorities to consider widening the ban on international arrivals to other countries besides India.
Apisamai Srirangson, the assistant spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said on Monday the woman and her three sons, aged four, six and eight, arrived in Thailand from Pakistan via Dubai on April 24.
All were in a state-arranged quarantine facility after the arrival and the first tests found the mother and her youngest son were positive, while the other children were not infected.
A whole genome sequencing test conducted at Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital on Sunday confirmed the virus detected on them was the variant from India, named B.1.617.1.
"These were the first detections of the Indian variant in the country," Dr Apisamai said.
The B.1.617.1 variant was recorded for the first time in India in October before spreading to other countries. Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh were among the nations on the subcontinent where this virus was found. In Southeast Asia, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have detected the same variant.
Dr Apisamai said authorities were worried by the arrival of this version of the virus and the new danger it poses. "There is concern about this variant and about the possibility that it could mutate in Thailand," she added.
Thailand has barred foreign arrivals from India since the beginning of this month due to worries about the Indian variant. The Thai embassy in India does not issue certificates of entry (COE) to any non-Thai nationals, effectively meaning they cannot travel to the kingdom.
The assistant spokeswoman said the Foreign Ministry and Department of Disease Control were on Monday holding discussions about halting the issuance of the entry permit in other countries to try to keep the Indian variant of Covid-19 out of Thailand.
She did not name the countries but said the variant had been recorded in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
"There is a possibility of delaying COEs in other countries," she added.
New cases = 1,919 ( +289 )
Deaths = 31 ( +9 )
Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia hit COVID variants with iron fist
Bangkok closes eateries, Cambodia shuts garment factories and Hanoi bans karaoke
Thailand's restaurants are closed to diners until further notice but home deliveries and takeaways are an option in most places. © EPA/Jiji
YOHEI MURAMATSU and TOMOYA ONISHI, Nikkei staff writersMay 11, 2021 14:07 JST
BANGKOK/HANOI -- Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia -- all early COVID success stories -- are now using an iron fist on their residents in bids to halt the spread of more virulent variants.
Thailand on May 1 issued a nationwide mask mandate and banned dining in restaurants in Bangkok and elsewhere. The first local transmissions of the U.K. variant were confirmed in early April.
By late that month, the country had counted about 65,000 total COVID-19 cases, more than twice the number reported a month earlier.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha then decided to assume ministerial powers granted by 31 laws, including the Communicable Disease Act. Prayuth said his intention was to consolidate necessary authority to contain the virus's spread, promote vaccinations and improve efficiency.
Other powers Prayuth assumed come from laws on security, cybercrime and other matters. Prayuth is the former army chief who staged Thailand's most recent coup, in May 2014, and who has held on to power with a new constitution that guarantees the military nearly all of the senate's 250 seats.
Now the opposition is accusing Prayuth of establishing a dictatorship in the name of combating COVID-19.
In Vietnam, after confirming local transmissions of the Indian variant, the government on Wednesday decided to extend the mandatory quarantine period to 21 days from 14 for anyone arriving in the country. Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, meanwhile, has urged citizens living overseas not to return, fearing they might carry variants with them.
The first local transmissions in more than a month were detected on April 29. After one case was identified, Hanoi, the capital, ordered that karaoke parlors and bars be closed, big events canceled and that masks be worn in public places. Violators are subject to penalties.
Why are countries that had successfully halted the virus's spread now being inundated with new cases? Migrants who freely but illegally go back and forth across borders are receiving much of the blame.
The Vietnamese government said that about 85% of COVID-19 patients who had entered from Cambodia tested positive for the U.K. variant.
Malaysia on Monday announced a fresh nationwide lockdown based on several factors, including the existence of new variants. The lockdown is to last until June 7 but is subject to an extension.
In Cambodia, the capital Phnom Penh and nearby Takmao on April 15 ordered citywide lockdowns. The measures came about two months after viral clusters hit Phnom Penh, then spread across the nation.
Before late February, the country counted only 500 cumulative cases. By late April, however, that number had topped 10,000.
It is believed that Chinese workers who had disregarded quarantine orders and left their designated facilities triggered the spread.
Now Cambodia's government is deporting foreigners who violate quarantines and is not allowing them to reenter.
The government is also penalizing Cambodians who violate stay-at-home orders. In addition, it has ordered more than 200 garment factories -- the country's key employer -- to temporarily halt production.
New cases = 1,983 ( +64 )
Deaths = 34 ( +3 )
Graphic is from The Pattaya News.
https://thepattayanews.com/2021/05/12/c ... r-a-month/
Thousands of inmates at two prisons have Covid-19
published : 12 May 2021 at 17:25
Inmates at Bangkok Remand Prison pass the time reading books. (Bangkok Post file photo)
A total of 2,835 inmates at two main prisons in Bangkok - the Bangkok Remand Prison and Central Women's Correctional Institution - have been found to be infected with Covid-19, Corrections Department director-general Aryut Sinthoppan said on Wednesday.
Mr Aryut revealed the figures after democracy activist Panusya Sithijirawattanakul posted on her Facebook page after being released on bail that she was infected with the virus during her stay in detention.
Ms Panusya was released on May 6 after being detained for 59 days at the Central Women's Correctional Institution.
Mr Aryut said active case finding conducted on prison officials and inmates found that 1,795 prisoners at Bangkok Remand Prison and 1,040 at the Central Women's Correctional Institution - 2,835 in total - were infected with the Covid-19 virus.
Most of them were being treated at the field hospitals set up at the two prisons or the Corrections Hospital. Others in more severe condition were admitted to other hospitals outside, he said.
"The Corrections Department has ordered all correctional facilities to set up an area for quarantine and a field hospital, with doctors and nurses on duty to provide treatment for the infected inmates.
"We also plan to inoculate all detainees. We are only waiting for an allocation of vaccines from relevant agencies," Mr Aryut said.
The Corrections Department had conducted active case finding on prison officials and detainees. Those found infected were taken out for treatment and those deemed high-risk put in quarantine.
New inmates were to be placed in quarantine for at least 21 days and they must be tested for Covid-19 twice before being sent to different zones.
He said the number of infected inmates was small when compared to the number of infections throughout the country.
According to a source at the Corrections Department, as of May 5, there were 3,238 prisoners at the Bangkok Remand Prison and 4,518 at the Central Women's Correctional Institution,
The website prisonstudies.org reports there were 307,910 people being held in Thai prisons as of April 1 this year, including pre-trial detainees. The site, run by the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research, quotes the "national prison administration".
New cases divided into 2 groups
Prison = 2,835
Others = 2,052
Klong Toey in big trouble
BANGKOK POST EDITORIAL COLUMN
PUBLISHED : 13 MAY 2021 AT 04:00
NEWSPAPER SECTION: NEWS
As the health authoritiesu race against time to tackle the Klong Toey cluster, another crisis is looming in the country's biggest slum.
Due to overcrowding that makes social distancing hard, and poor sanitary conditions, Covid-19 spread quickly after the first cases associated with the Thong Lor cluster were detected, with contagion going at alarming an rate of 4.5%.
Many were infected while waiting for a family member to be transferred from their home to the hospital. The outbreak has caused many problems for community members. Some have lost relatives, others have had to take care of family members in critical condition, taking on the financial burden as they struggle to make ends meet.
Even those recovering from the virus cannot resume a normal life immediately as they are required to complete a 14-day quarantine. Such requirements may be possible for state officials or company workers with a monthly salary who can adopt the work-from-home module, but it is difficult for people who earn a living through hard labour, mostly on the daily minimum wage. Until now, no state agencies have a plan to deal with this tough economic issue affecting a large group of Klong Toey's community dwellers.
Moreover, a number of businesses are facing crunch time as a result of state restrictions, including a ban on dine-ins at restaurants and constant closures of markets, which are a major source of employment for the Klong Toey community. Under such unfavourable circumstances, those businesses have to adopt cost-cutting measures and have dismissed some workers.
One problem that cannot be ignored is the social stigma. It must be admitted that Klong Toey is a residential area for low-paid workers. But after emerging as the virus epicentre, an accompanying social stigma may cost these workers their jobs as employers may dismiss them to prevent Covid transmission.
Prateep Ungsongtham, a prominent slum leader, said the Klong Toey community now depends entirely on donations, such as food and necessities. There is no assistance from the state.
Despite Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang soliciting help, recruiting volunteers in various fields such as medical services and food distribution, City Hall is one step behind the problem.
At the same time, the government has designed its relief package to curb economic hardship and boost consumption. Yet the financial package fails to address social and economic impacts that low-income community dwellers are subject to. Apparently, there is a big gap in state help that must urgently be addressed.
For instance, state agencies must provide a support system to enable those affected by the virus to resume a normal life, or a campaign against social stigma through education, ensuring that everyone remains on high guard against the virus.
As a saying goes, it's better late than never. On the contrary, the state must think about a relief package that is practical enough for this highly vulnerable group, and also one that addresses mental recovery, to ease the devastation and prevent drug use and suicide. Needless to say, the slum communities have hard times ahead, as hope for employment or re-employment is dim and the virus continues to rage. Without jobs or income, there could be higher crime rates affecting other groups of society.
The state must work out, with the help of other sectors, a medium- and long-term job creation plan for this vulnerable group to prevent any further social turbulence.
Thailand 2,073 (+21)
Prison 183 (-2,652)
Total 2,256 (-2,631)
Deaths 30 (-2)
Thailand 2,218 (+145)
Prison 877 (+694)
Total 3,095 (+839)
Deaths 17 (-13)
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