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How Covid-19 Might Spread to You

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  • Five of Thailand’s coastal provinces placed under total lockdown

    Thailand’s five coastal provinces of Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat have been placed under total lockdown, meaning travel in and out of the provinces is banned, unless it is absolutely necessary.

    Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutacha said in his Facebook post on Monday that he would like to thank Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the CCSA for approving the proposal from the Ministry of Public Health to lock the provinces down due to the rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rate.

    While acknowledging that the tough measure will impact the economy and the normal livelihoods of the people there, he said that, without this tough but short-term measure, the pandemic may spread across the country.

    Meanwhile, the Bureau of the Royal Household has ordered the temporary closure of The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Bang Pa-in Palace, the Puping Palace, Chang Hua Mun Royal Project, Queen Sirikit’s textile museum, Silpa Paendin museum and Sala Chalerm Krung Royal Theatre until January 31st.

    A research team from Prince of Songkhla University has developed a COVID-19 test kit, which is capable of detecting the presence of COVID anti-bodies in blood in 15 minutes with 99% accuracy.

    Assistant Professor Thirakamol Pengsakul, head of the research team, explained today that, since over 90% of infected people are asymptomatic, the test kit is used to detect anti-bodies in a person exposed to the virus in the previous 1-2 weeks.

    He said the test kit has been approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration and mass production can start shortly, with the capacity to produce up to 100,000 test kits a day.:

    Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
    Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • Scotland to enter month-long coronavirus lockdown

      Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday that Scotland would enter a month-long lockdown beginning at midnight, as a highly infectious COVID-19 variant continues to spread rapidly throughout the United Kingdom.

      Why it matters: Sturgeon warned that rising infections are putting "significant pressure" on the National Health Service, and that hospitals could reach capacity in three to four weeks. As a result, people must legally stay at home and work from home when possible.

      What they're saying: "I am now more concerned about the situation now than I have ever been since March," Sturgeon said.

      The big picture: The new variant has been found to have a greater degree of transmissibility, but there is "no evidence to suggest that the variant has any impact on the severity of disease or vaccine efficacy," per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
      • Coronavirus Cases: 85,749,406

      Deaths: 1,855,064

      Underreported US death count: 360,246

      American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

      Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
      it's been blown way out of proportion.

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • Thailand - Covid travel permit 'impractical'

        Emotions ran high at a number of district offices, where residents of eastern provinces which had been declared maximum and strict Covid-19 control areas were seen queuing for hours to get a permit to travel.

        Within the first hour of opening, the district office at Rayong's Muang district saw more than 100 people stream in to apply for travel permits. As the day progressed, the sheer number of applicants forced authorities to move the dedicated booth to a meeting hall which offered more space.

        Fireworks displays for the New Year countdown at CentralWorld are always a magnet to draw hundreds of thousands of revellers to watch. But this New Year was different. The event was organised during the new normal with live streaming only due to Covid-19 curbs.

        "The movement restriction came out of the blue. All of a sudden, everyone has to get in line to get a piece of paper to leave the province," said Sorot Chamchuen, 69, a vegetable trader based in Rayong, who routinely picks up produce from the distribution centre at Talad Thai market in Pathum Thani.

        "We're afraid of breaking the law, on top of our fears of contracting Covid-19."

        A Rayong-based shrimp vendor, who asked not to be named, said, "Before the authorities announce a regulation that must be followed, they need to think of the people and give them enough time to prepare first."

        She said that even officials seemed ill-prepared to enforce the new restrictions, which were recently published in the Royal Gazette and put into immediate effect.

        The new restriction, which applies to Chon Buri, Chanthaburi, Rayong, Samut Sakhon and Trat, requires those seeking to travel outside their home provinces to secure a permit from their local district office.

        All of the provinces affected by the movement curbs are on the eastern seaboard, with the exception of Samut Sakhon.

        Until the curb is lifted, residents of those provinces are only allowed to travel to other regions for essential and/or emergency purposes. In order to secure a permit, applicants must produce their national identity cards, along with other documents to vouch for the trip.

        The rule has come under criticism from affected residents, as the permits are only valid for one day only. Those who are caught travelling outside their home provinces may face jail time, a fine, or both.

        Just like in Rayong, the Muang district office in Chon Buri was packed with people seeking to get a travel permit, and very few people maintained social distancing, it was observed.

        Prakasit Sueksongkram, assistant chief of Muang district office, said the office has opened a dedicated booth to process the permit applications, adding the booth operates around the clock. Despite that, a permit seeker who declined to be named, told the Bangkok Post that he had yet to receive his permit despite having queued for 2.5 hours since 6am.

        The man, a hired hand based in Chon Buri who needed to commute to work in Samut Prakan, said the requirement is impractical. "It's troublesome. But it's the rule," he said.

        Officers at the booth said it was up to the governor and district chiefs to decide if issuing a weekly pass for the sake of convenience would be worth the infection risk.

        Similarly packed scenes could be seen at other district offices in other provinces.

        In Trat, Jutarat Chumsawasdi, assistant chief of Khao Saming district, was present at the permit-issuing booth to sign the permits and speed up the process.

        She said while more than 200 people sought to apply for travel permits on Thursday, many did not understand the application steps, which needed explaining.

        Udomsilp Jamkham, a Trat resident, said he delivers goods every day to Si Sa Ket. He said he is planning to ask for several passes in advance.:

        Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
        Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • Only essential travel allowed to and from 5 Thai provinces

          An announcement in the Royal Gazette states that Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong, Trat, and Chanthaburi are designated as the highest level strict control zones and will see tougher travel restrictions.

          The local authorities have the power to examine and control the use of transport routes and vehicles. There will be more checkpoints set up to intensify the screening of people entering or leaving the areas. Only essential travel allowed, with the permission of local authorities.

          Prime minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha issued the directive under the state of emergency, which has been extended 9 times. The latest extension will last until the end of February.

          Residents in these five provinces must use the Mor-Chana or the Thai-Chana tracing applications.

          Those found guilty of violation of the new directive are liable to a prison term of up to two years and/or a fine of up to 40,000 THB.:

          Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
          Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Moderna CEO says COVID-19 vaccine protection may last years

            Moderna's CEO said the company's new COVID-19 vaccine may prevent infection for years.

            While speaking at a virtual event by Oddo BHF, a financial service group, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said the once-believed "nightmare scenario" that the vaccine won't work is now out the window. "We believe there will be protection potentially for a couple of years," Bancel said.

            He explained that the "antibody decay generated by the vaccine in humans goes down very slowly," Reuters reports.

            However, there are still questions about elderly patients because, as is true with every virus, their immune system goes down over time, Bancel said.

            The CEO also said Moderna is close to proving its vaccine is effective against other variants of the coronavirus, Reuters reports.

            The U.S. has received shipments of both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots, which both require two doses several weeks apart. The second dose must be from the same company as the first. Both vaccines appeared safe and strongly protective in large, still unfinished studies.

            In November, Moderna announced its vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 was 94.1% and that its vaccine efficacy against severe COVID-19 was 100%.

            Pfizer announced that its vaccine is 95 percent effective against COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose. It did not say how long the vaccine would last but added that its vaccine trial will continue for an additional two years.

            The CDC says that because reinfection is possible with COVID-19, even people who have already had the virus should receive the vaccine. It is still unclear how long natural immunity, or the immunity someone gains from having an infection, will last, according to the CDC. Natural immunity varies from person to person, and some evidence suggests it may not last very long for COVID-19.:
            • Coronavirus Cases: 88,574,580

            Deaths: 1,908,012

            Underreported US death count: 374,124

            American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

            Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
            it's been blown way out of proportion.

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • Thailand - Covid-19 vaccination begins next month

              The government has set three phases of Covid-19 vaccination for citizens, with the first phase to cover 1 million people in vulnerable groups from February to April, the chief of the Disease Control Department said on Thursday.

              Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the director-general, said the first phase would involve 2 million doses, and be used to reduce the rate of severe illness and death from Covid-19 and to maintain the national health system.

              The 2-million-dose vaccination was set from February to April. It would be for 80,000 medical personnel and health volunteers, 20,000 disease control workers, 900,000 people aged 60 and over, and people with chronic diseases.

              The first recipients would be in Samut Sakhon province, greater Bangkok and the eastern provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat, which had high levels of infection and had been declared maximum control zones, he said.

              People with chronic disease who may otherwise die after Covid-19 infection included those with severe respiratory illnesses such chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, cardiovascular disease, renal failure of stage 5 and over, stroke, diabetes and all kinds of cancer.

              Medical personnel to be vaccinated were those likely to be in contact with Covid-19 patients. Disease control workers included officials at border checkpoints, disease control areas along the border and field hospitals.

              The second phase would involve 26 million doses to be given to people in vulnerable groups nationwide in May and June, to protect the national economy, society and security.

              The third phase, set for later this year to early next year, would involve vaccinating enough of the general population to develop herd immunity and stop the spread of Covid-19 at community level.

              Each person would need two doses, four weeks apart. It would take 1-2 months for the vaccine to have full effect, Dr Opas said.

              He also said that new Covid-19 cases were tending to slow down, while recoveries were increasing.

              Covid-19 had spread in 56 provinces, most of them with1-2 patients, and 10% of people in close contact with patients also tested positive. Covid-19 could be controlled in the majority of the provinces, he said.

              Of 5,381 Covid-19 patients recorded in the second wave since Dec 15, the majority were in Samut Sakhon (2,905), followed by 1,523 in the eastern provinces of Chon Buri, Chanthaburi and Trat, and 473 in Bangkok.

              Covid-19 was mainly spreading in the Central Plain, the East and the West: Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Trat, greater Bangkok, the disease control chief said.:

              Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
              Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.
              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • Thailand - Govt urged to impose restrictions on people's movement in Covid-19-hit provinces

                Chulalongkorn University professor of medicine Dr Thira Woratanarat has suggested that the government impose restrictions on people moving around within the province as well as inter-provincial travel where new Covid-19 cases have been found.

                His comment comes as Thailand reports another day of more than 100 cases in the second wave of Covid-19, starting in December.

                In a Facebook post on Sunday, Thira said that the Thai government should tell people to stay home and lockdown should be from two to four weeks.

                The government's response to the second round of the outbreak has demonstrated a lack of unity, he said, referring to authorities changing restriction measures.

                “When the government keeps changing the restriction measures or makes a u-turn on decisions, it does not boost confidence among people,’’ he said.

                The government should not see the task of combating the virus as a budget burden, and the government should not issue threats about not taking care of those illegally entering the country or those who engage in illegal gambling, he said.

                Such threats could lead to the virus spreading more, as the infected people may go underground, he warned.

                The government needs to help everyone not only on humanitarian basis but also to contain the infections.

                Everyone must wear face mask, he added.

                Cumulative cases worldwide rose to almost 90 million on Sunday and the number of total deaths rose to 1.9 million.

                Among Asean countries, Myanmar reported 566 new cases on Saturday, with 14 new fatalities. Cumulative cases in Myanmar reached 130,049 and the death toll rose to 2,826, or 2.2 per cent fatality rate.:
                • Thailand - Resurgence threatens shoots of recovery

                The labour market was just starting to bounce back with a lower-than-expected unemployment rate when the fresh wave of Covid-19 cases hit, says Deputy Chairman of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC), Chalee Loysoong.

                Continued assistance will be needed for recent graduates and workers in the most affected industries as the government shapes its response, he said.

                In an interview with the Bangkok Post, Mr Chalee said 2020 had been a hard year for workers who had to survive both Covid-19 and the risk of layoffs. Many companies cut employee numbers through voluntary early-retirement programmes for those aged over 45 years old.:

                Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
                Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.
                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • You can’t sue Pfizer or Moderna if you have severe Covid vaccine side effects. The government likely won’t compensate you for damages either

                  If you experience severe side effects after getting a Covid vaccine, lawyers tell CNBC there is basically no one to blame in a U.S. court of law.

                  The federal government has granted companies like Pfizer and Moderna immunity from liability if something unintentionally goes wrong with their vaccines.

                  “It is very rare for a blanket immunity law to be passed,” said Rogge Dunn, a Dallas labor and employment attorney. “Pharmaceutical companies typically aren’t offered much liability protection under the law.“

                  You also can’t sue the Food and Drug Administration for authorizing a vaccine for emergency use, nor can you hold your employer accountable if they mandate inoculation as a condition of employment.

                  Congress created a fund specifically to help cover lost wages and out-of-pocket medical expenses for people who have been irreparably harmed by a “covered countermeasure,” such as a vaccine. But it is difficult to use and rarely pays. Attorneys say it has compensated less than 6% of the claims filed in the last decade.

                  Immune to lawsuits

                  In February, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar invoked the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. The 2005 law empowers the HHS secretary to provide legal protection to companies making or distributing critical medical supplies, such as vaccines and treatments, unless there’s “willful misconduct” by the company. The protection lasts until 2024.

                  That means that for the next four years, these companies “cannot be sued for money damages in court” over injuries related to the administration or use of products to treat or protect against Covid.

                  HHS declined CNBC’s request for an interview.

                  Dunn thinks a big reason for the unprecedented protection has to do with the expedited timeline.

                  “When the government said, ‘We want you to develop this four or five times faster than you normally do,’ most likely the manufacturers said to the government, ‘We want you, the government, to protect us from multimillion-dollar lawsuits,’” said Dunn.

                  It is very rare for a blanket immunity law to be passed. ... Pharmaceutical companies typically aren’t offered much liability protection under the law.

                  The quickest vaccine ever developed was for mumps. It took four years and was licensed in 1967. Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine was developed and cleared for emergency use in eight months — a fact that has fueled public mistrust of the coronavirus inoculation in the U.S.

                  Roughly 4 in 10 Americans say they would “definitely” or “probably” not get vaccinated, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. While this is lower than it was two months ago, it still points to a huge trust gap.

                  But drugmakers like Pfizer continue to reassure the public no shortcuts were taken. “This is a vaccine that was developed without cutting corners,” CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday. “This is a vaccine that is getting approved by all authorities in the world. That should say something.”

                  The legal immunity granted to pharmaceutical companies doesn’t just guard them against lawsuits. Dunn said it helps lower the cost of the immunizations.

                  “The government doesn’t want people suing the companies making the Covid vaccine. Because then, the manufacturers would probably charge the government a higher price per person per dose,” Dunn explained.

                  Pfizer and Moderna did not return CNBC’s request for comment on their legal protections.

                  Is anyone liable?

                  Remember, vaccine manufacturers aren’t the ones approving their product for mass distribution. That is the job of the FDA.

                  Which begs the question, can you sue the U.S. government if you have an extraordinarily bad reaction to a vaccine?

                  Again, the answer is no.

                  “You can’t sue the FDA for approving or disapproving a drug,” said Dorit Reiss, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law. “That’s part of its sovereign immunity.”

                  Sovereign immunity came from the king, explains Dunn, referring to British law before the American Revolution. “You couldn’t sue the king. So, America has sovereign immunity, and even each state has sovereign immunity.”

                  There are limited exceptions, but Dunn said he doesn’t think they provide a viable legal path to hold the federal government responsible for a Covid vaccine injury.

                  Bringing workers back to the office in a post-Covid world also carries with it a heightened fear of liability for employers. Lawyers across the country say their corporate clients are reaching out to them to ask whether they can require employees to get immunized.

                  “They view it as a selling point,” Dunn said. “It’s particularly important for restaurants, bars, gyms and salons. My clients in that segment of the service industry are looking hard at making it mandatory, as a sales point to their customers.”

                  While this is in part a public relations tactic, it is legally within an employer’s rights to impose such a requirement.

                  “Requiring a vaccine is a health and safety work rule, and employers can do that,” said Reiss.

                  There are a few notable exceptions. If a work force is unionized, the collective bargaining agreement may require negotiating with the union before mandating a vaccine.

                  Anti-discrimination laws provide some protections as well. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, workers who don’t want to be vaccinated for medical reasons are eligible to request an exemption. If taking the vaccine is a violation of a “sincerely held” religious belief, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would potentially provide a way to opt out.

                  Should none of these exemptions apply, employees may have some legal recourse if they suffer debilitating side effects following a work-mandated Covid inoculation.

                  Attorneys say claims would most likely be routed through worker’s compensation programs and treated as an on-the-job injury.

                  “But there are significant limits or caps on the damages an employee can recover,” said Dunn. He added that it would likely be difficult to prove.

                  Mandatory vaccination protocols, however, may not happen until the FDA formally approves the vaccines and grants Pfizer and BioNTech or Moderna a license to sell them, which will take several more months of data to show their safety and effectiveness.

                  “An emergency use authorization is not a license,” said Reiss. “There’s a legal question as to whether you can mandate an emergency observation. The language in the act is somewhat unclear on that.”

                  The government has created a way for people to recover some damages should something go wrong following immunization.

                  In addition to the legal immunity, the PREP Act established the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP), which provides benefits to eligible individuals who suffer serious injury from one of the protected companies.

                  The little-known government program has been around for a decade, and it is managed by an agency under HHS. This fund typically only deals with vaccines you probably would never get, like the H1N1 and anthrax vaccines.

                  If a case for compensation through the CICP is successful, the program provides up to $50,000 per year in unreimbursed lost wages and out-of-pocket medical expenses. It won’t cover legal fees or anything to compensate for pain and suffering.

                  It is also capped at the death benefit of $370,376, which is the most a surviving family member receives in the event that a Covid vaccine proves to be fatal.

                  But experts specializing in vaccine law say it is difficult to navigate. “This government compensation program is very hard to use,” said Reiss. “The bar for compensation is very high.”

                  Also worrisome to some vaccine injury lawyers is the fact that the CICP has rejected a majority of the compensation requests made since the program began 10 years ago. Of the 499 claims filed, the CICP has compensated only 29 claims, totaling more than $6 million.

                  People who are harmed by a Covid vaccine deserve to be compensated fast and generously. The PREP Act doesn’t do that.

                  David Carney, vice president of the Vaccine Bar Association, said the CICP might deny a claim for a variety of reasons. “One reason might be that the medical records don’t support a claim,” said Carney, who regularly deals with vaccine injury cases. “We have to litigate a lot of really complex issues ... and provide a medical basis for why the injury occurred.”

                  Proving an injury was a direct result of the Covid vaccine could be difficult, according to Carney. “It’s not as simple as saying. ‘Hey, I got a Covid treatment, and now I have an injury.’ There is a lot of burden of proof there.”

                  There is also a strict one-year statute, meaning that all claims have to be filed within 12 months of receiving the vaccine.

                  “People who are harmed by a Covid vaccine deserve to be compensated fast and generously,” said Reiss. “The PREP Act doesn’t do that.”

                  Lawyers tell CNBC that it would make more sense for Covid vaccine injuries to instead be routed through another program under the HHS called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which handles claims for 16 routine vaccines. Known colloquially as “vaccine court,” the program paid on about 70% of petitions adjudicated by the court from 2006 to 2018.

                  And since it began considering claims in 1988, the VICP has paid approximately $4.4 billion in total compensation. That dwarfs the CICP’s roughly $6 million in paid benefits over the life of the program.

                  The VICP also gives you more time to file your claim. You have three years from the date of the first symptom to file for compensation.

                  “The VICP allows for recovery of pain and suffering, attorney’s fees, along with medical expenses and lost wages, if any,” said Michael Maxwell, a lawyer who practices in the areas of business litigation and personal injury. “Under the CICP, it’s only lost wages and out-of-pocket medical expenses. That’s it, unless there’s a death.”

                  The Covid-19 vaccines, however, aren’t on the list of eligible vaccines.

                  Reiss said the best fix would be to change VICP’s rulebook to add Covid vaccines to its list of covered inoculations. “That will require legislative change. I hope that legislative change happens.”:
                  • Coronavirus Cases: 90,731,433

                  Deaths: 1,943,980

                  Underreported US death count: 383,275

                  American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

                  Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
                  it's been blown way out of proportion.

                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • Vaccination to kick off next month in 5 ‘red zone’ provinces

                    Nationwide Covid-19 vaccination will begin in February and target the five “red zone” provinces now under lockdown, the government announced on Friday.

                    The Department of Disease Control (DDC) said residents of Samut Sakhon, Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat would be inoculated from February to April. Most people in Thailand would get Covid-19 shots by the end of this year, it added.

                    DDC director general Opas Karnkawinpong said the vaccination timeline had been set after health agencies passed the vaccine as safe and effective. He did not mention the name of the vaccine, but Thailand has so far secured 63 million doses from AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech.

                    Opas said Thailand’s vaccination programme will be divided into three phases.

                    The first phase of 2 million doses will be rolled out in the red-zone provinces from February to April.

                    The second phase of 26 million doses will target at-risk people – medical personnel and seniors – from May to June.

                    The third phase will roll out vaccination for the general population by the end of this year.

                    At-risk people can register for vaccination from the end of January to the beginning of next month, said Opas.:

                    Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
                    Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • Govt approves Covid handouts

                      The government on Tuesday agreed to two cash handouts to those most in need in the wake of the latest Covid-19 outbreak.

                      The two monthly payments of 3,500 baht are among a raft of measures designed to ease people's plight, the others being reduced electricity and water bills, and soft loans to businesses.

                      Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the weekly cabinet meeting had approved the new measures to reduce people's cost-of-living expenses and put more cash in their pockets.

                      The Finance Ministry must still work out the details of the cash handout and its proposal will be discussed by the cabinet next Tuesday.

                      Casual workers, freelancers and farmers who are not covered by the social security system will be eligible for the new relief measures.

                      A government source said about 30 million people were expected to receive the handouts and a budget of 210 billion baht had been set aside.

                      Electricity and household water bills will be reduced for February and March -- each household with electricity consumption up to 150 units a month will get the first 90 units for free and there will also be discounts for those using more than 150 units a month.

                      Water charges for households and small businesses will be cut by 10% for February and March, excluding state agencies and state enterprises. A budget of about nine billion baht would be required to subsidise those reductions, Gen Prayut said.

                      The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission will also be asking internet service providers to consider reducing household bills, boost internet speeds to support those working from home, and provide free downloads of the Mor Chana position-tracking app for three months.

                      The government will also expand the co-payment subsidy scheme for another one million people. Registration is expected to open next Wednesday and eligible people can participate from Jan 25.

                      The co-payment scheme allows registered individuals who buy goods from smaller local shops to pay only half the price of their purchases (of listed essential goods), with the government subsidising the other half.

                      The 90% reduction in land and building taxes and the reduced 0.01% fee for property transfers and mortgages is also being extended.

                      Soft loans will boost cash flow for eligible people and businesses at a cost to the government of 200 billion baht.

                      The Government Savings Bank had agreed to lend 10,000-50,000 baht to each debtor, at interest rates of just 0.1-0.35% a month, the PM said.

                      Gen Prayut insisted that the government had enough money to support the new Covid-related financial measures.

                      About 470 billion baht remained from the Finance Ministry's one-trillion-baht budget to cope with the impact of Covid-19, and about 130 billion baht from the government's contingency fund could also be used for this purpose, said Gen Prayut.

                      Meanwhile, the Commerce Ministry will work with the Interior Ministry and Industry Ministry to ensure enough personal protective equipment, face masks and hand sanitisers are always provided at high-risk areas, says the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).

                      Measures will also be in place to support business operators to use their factories as quarantine facilities for workers, particularly in the five maximum control provinces of Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat, said NESDC secretary-general Danucha Pichayanan.

                      Thai tourists who have made hotel bookings for this month and next month under the Rao Tiew Duay Kan (We Travel Together) co-payment scheme will also be allowed to postpone their reservations until April.

                      The cabinet also approved an exemption of personal income tax for 2020 for those who received financial assistance from relief packages.

                      They include the co-payment scheme, We Travel Together programme, the Moral Support campaign which allowed 1.2 million health volunteers and officials of sub-district hospitals to travel with a 2,000-baht budget per tourist, and the measure to pay compensation to workers left unemployed due to Covid-19.

                      The cabinet last month approved reduced Social Security Fund contributions by employers and employees from 5% to 3% from January to March.:

                      Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
                      Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.

                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • Thailand’s first factory quarantine facility up and running

                        Pattaya Food Group (PFG) has converted its factory in Samut Sakhon into the country’s first factory quarantine facility for treating and isolating Covid-19 patients, the government’s Covid-19 Information Centre posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday.

                        “The factory used to manufacture canned foods under the Nautilus brand, but it is now a 600-bed quarantine facility,” the centre said.“The facility is divided into three zones: a green zone in front is the reception area, a yellow zone is where medical professionals are stationed and where they will change their clothes, and a red zone will house infected patients,” it said.The centre also said the red zone features a dining area, toilets, shower rooms, a washing room and an exercise area. Patients will not be allowed to leave this zone until they are cleared of the virus.

                        The centre thanked PFG for being socially responsible and being a role model for other businesses to convert their facilities for Covid-19 treatment and quarantine.

                        On Wednesday, Samut Sakhon reported 208 new Covid-19 cases, with the number of accumulated cases in the province being 3,760 patients as of now. Some 320 are undergoing hospital treatment, 564 have been cured and one person has died. The province has 1,032 persons under quarantine, while 1,843 were announced clear of the virus.:

                        Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
                        Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.
                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • Thailand - Baby gets COVID-19 as concern grows over clusters in families and work places

                          A three-month old baby, in the Bang Bon area of Bangkok, has tested positive for COVID-19, apparently acquired from a family friend, as health officials voice concern over a rise in cluster infections among family members and colleagues in work places.

                          Dr. Vicharn said that the mother and her seven-year old son were also infected by a friend, who had recently visited the family and shared a meal.

                          The friend, who was not identified, later developed anosmia and was confirmed to be infected, he said, adding all of them have been admitted to hospital.

                          Dr. Vicharn Pawan, director of the Institute for the Prevention and Control of Urban Diseases, said that asymptomatic cases represent about 49% of all infections in Bangkok in the second outbreak, compared to about 29% in the first outbreak last. Total infections, however, are fewer, thanks to intensified preventive measures.

                          Many cluster infections are related to the central shrimp market in Samut Sakhon province and entertainment venues in Pin Klao, Thon Buri and Bang Na, he said.

                          He also noted a worrying increase in cluster infections among family members and colleagues in the same work place and stressed the need of tough preventive measures at work.:

                          Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
                          Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • Thailand - All hotels and resorts in Kanchanaburi to close due to latest COVID outbreak

                            Yesterday, the Governor of Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province, Jirakiat Poomsawat, issued an order to close all hotels and resorts immediately and until further notice, including businesses that function like a hotel.

                            Hotels that are being used as local quarantine facilities, however, will remain in operation.

                            The explanation, included in the order, said that the latest COVID outbreak has already spread to many provinces, with infections still increasing. As Kanchanaburi is a tourist destination, which attracts large groups of travellers, the order has been imposed to limit the spread of the contagion.

                            Those who breach the order will be subject to one year in prison and/or a fine up to 100,000 baht, under Section 52 of the Communicable Disease Act (2015), and two years in prison and/or a fine up to 40,000 baht under the Emergency Decree.

                            Hotels, which still have guests in residence, can continue to operate until all the guests check out, and no new guests will be allowed. Hotels which still have guests must provide their guests’ names to the local administration, and ensure that strict social distancing and sanitization measures are followed.:

                            Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
                            Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.

                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                            • New Covid wave leaves Cha-am beach empty

                              The once bustling beach in Phetchaburi’s Cha-am district is now mostly quiet after a new wave of Covid-19 infections hit Thailand in December.

                              Prasarn Phromsri, 56, the owner of a beachside seafood stall said his shop has hardly had any visitors since the New Year and hopes the government will roll out measures to help small merchants survive.

                              Meanwhile, Wasan Kittikul, president of the Thai Hotels in Western Region Association, said that due to a drastic drop in customers, hotel operators in the province have had to slash their room rates as well as reduce the working hours of staff to save cost.

                              “Some hotels have even shut down temporarily until the situation improves,” he said. “The association expects domestic tourists to return to Cha-am by the end of 2021, when the new wave is under control

                              “Some hotels even have to temporarily shut down until the situation improves,” he said. “The association expects domestic tourists to return to Cha Am by the end of 2021 when the new wave is under control, and foreign tourists may return in 2022 once international travel restrictions are lifted.”:

                              Originally posted by Somchai Boonporn View Post
                              Perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Golden Land.

                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • Study shows more evidence of long-term coronavirus symptoms

                                A new study of coronavirus patients discharged from a hospital in Wuhan, China, found that most participants had at least one symptom six months later, the New York Times reports.

                                Why it matters: The study, published in The Lancet, is a stark reminder that death isn't the only thing to fear from the virus.

                                Details: Of the 1,733 patients included in the study, more than three-quarters of them had lingering symptoms, including fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxiety or diminished lung function.

                                Exhaustion or muscle weakness was the most common ongoing issue.

                                Although the patients were sick enough to be hospitalized, the vast majority did not need ventilators or high-flow nasal oxygen, meaning they weren't the most severely ill patients.:
                                • Coronavirus Cases: 90,731,433

                                Deaths: 1,943,980

                                Underreported US death count: 383,275

                                American Civil War Casualties (North and South) - 214,938

                                Originally posted by Boon Mee View Post
                                it's been blown way out of proportion.
                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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