Thailand screens arriving solders as outbreaks grow in and out of Asia

Medical workers from the Bangkok Ratchasima Hospital unload “casualties” on Saturday during a medevac rehearsal with U.S. Army aviators from various regiments. Photo: 1st Lt. Angelo Mejia / U.S. Army
Medical workers from the Bangkok Ratchasima Hospital unload “casualties” on Saturday during a medevac rehearsal with U.S. Army aviators from various regiments. Photo: 1st Lt. Angelo Mejia / U.S. Army

While new outbreaks taking hold outside of China concern health officials worldwide, Southeast Asia’s mixed bag of containment efforts continue to be frustrated.

Thailand is preparing to host a large-scale joint military exercise with American and other forces, while travelers in the region continue to take ill and in some cases end up stranded.  Chatrapi Poonsri, Royal Thai Army spokeswoman, said soldiers arriving in Thailand to participate in the annual Cobra Gold exercises are being strictly screened upon arrival. The games are set to commence Tuesday. It’s unclear what day the American and Thai soldiers will ritualistically kill a snake and drink its blood together — a Cobra Gold tradition.

In Hong Kong, a 68-year-old man recently evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship became the city’s 71st case, joining four others to preliminarily test positive for the virus. Nearly 200 Hong Kongers are still awaiting evacuation from the virus-stricken vessel.

Singapore’s health ministry yesterday confirmed that a 41-year-old permanent resident had become the country’s 89th case. A Filipino national tested positive for the virus in the Lion City while the number of patients deemed “recovered” reached 51.

But it was Korea and in two nations outside of Asia did COVID-19 cases pick up speed over the weekend. South Korea is on its highest security alert after infections spiraled to more than 700 people and seven dead.

Soldiers drink the blood of a dead snake during Cobra Gold 2018. Photo: Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony / U.S. Air Force
Soldiers drink the blood of a dead snake during Cobra Gold 2018. Photo: Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony / U.S. Air Force

Another 161 new cases were confirmed today, 11 of which involved soldiers. The infection has spread to many parts of the country, including Daegu city, where there were at least 80 infections, a bulk of which were connected one sect.

The virus is also spreading fast in Italy and Iran, which saw spikes in cases. Italy’s official count had idled at three for weeks before suddenly mushrooming to 157. Iran, which had gone from no cases to several deaths, has announced 43 cases as of Monday morning. Italy also announced three deaths linked to the disease on Sunday.

In China, the virus has infected nearly 80,000 people and killed at least 2,000.

At the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, authorities have imposed a mandatory two-week quarantine for recovered patients after test results came back positive for some who were discharged from hospitals.

Singapore

  • Singapore reported four new cases since Friday. They involved:
    • Case 86: A 24-year-old Singaporean student of the Singapore Institute of Technology, linked to the 82nd patient, tested positive for the virus on Feb. 20.
    • Case 87: A 32-year-old Singaporean man, who was among those repatriated from Wuhan on Feb. 9, tested positive for the virus on Feb. 21.
    • Case 88: A 30-year-old Singaporean woman, linked to the 66th patient, tested positive for the virus on Feb. 22.
    • Case 89: A 41-year-old Singapore permanent resident tested positive for the virus on Feb. 22.
      • The Philippines Embassy in Singapore confirmed today a Filipino national had tested positive for the virus.
  • A total of 51 have fully recovered and were discharged from hospitals, according to the health minister last night.

Manila

  • First Filipino diagnosed with COVID-19 in Singapore
  • Filipinos evacuated from Wuhan finished their quarantine on Saturday and are going home.
  • Filipinos from Diamond Princess cruise ship set to arrive home on Tuesday and to be quarantined again at New Clark City.
    • The Philippines Health Department announced Saturday that 49 out of 538 Filipinos from the ship tested positive for the virus and are being treated at Japanese hospitals.
      • Two have recovered and discharged from hospitals.

Thailand

  • The Thailand government revealed a plan to contain COVID-19 if the disease spread worsens in the country. The plan, which was approved by the Thai cabinet on Tuesday, includes setting up military field hospitals, the closure of schools and prisons, the cancellation of large gatherings and work-from-home orders.
  • The total number of cases in Thailand stands at 35 as of Monday morning.
  • The Thai armed forces announced strict screening of foreign soldiers entering the kingdom this week for the annual, U.S.-led Cobra Gold joint exercises

Malaysia

  • The sister of the Malaysian man who contracted the virus after attending a Singapore conference was discharged from the hospital on Saturday.
  • The American woman who tested positive for the virus in Malaysia is reportedly showing signs of recovery after test results came back negative. It is not clear when she will be discharged from the hospital.

Indonesia

  • Health authorities are waiting for official reports a Japanese man was diagnosed with COVID-19 shortly after a trip to Indonesia.
    • The Tokyo man, who is in his 60s, traveled to Indonesia on Feb. 15 for a vacation with his family. When he returned to Japan four days later, he was hospitalized for severe difficulty breathing, NHK News reported. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government did not specify where in Indonesia he had visited.
  • Indonesia has denied entry to more than 100 foreigners who had been to China in the last two weeks, including those from Singapore and Malaysia, amid coronavirus fears, an immigration spokesperson reportedly said. Bali recorded the highest refusals with 89 foreigners.

Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong confirmed five new cases since Saturday including a man who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, bringing the total number of infections in the city to 74.
  • At least four other Hong Kong residents evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship preliminary tested positive for the virus yesterday.
    • Hong Kong had chartered three flights to repatriate its residents from the quarantined ship but it is not clear which flight the infected residents were on.
    • A total of 193 passengers from Hong Kong were evacuated.
  • Other newly confirmed cases are linked to visitors of a temple in North Point.
Additional reporting Chayanit Itthipongmaetee

Related:

Officials announce two more COVID-19 cases, total at 67
First batch of Hongkongers stranded on virus-struck cruise ship return home
Two more Malaysian patients recover from COVID-19, no new cases today: Health Ministry
Health Department to quarantine at least 500 Filipinos from Diamond Princess at New Clark City

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