Thailand set to evacuate citizens from Wuhan as HealthMin touts treatment success

A police officer disinfects guests’ hands Wednesday outside the Siam Paragon shopping mall. Photo: Siam One / Facebook
A police officer disinfects guests’ hands Wednesday outside the Siam Paragon shopping mall. Photo: Siam One / Facebook

The Philippines yesterday reported the world’s first death outside of China related to the Wuhan virus outbreak while Thailand’s health ministry claimed it saw results by treating an infected woman with a mix of antiviral drugs.

Thousands in Hong Kong today were preparing for a five-day strike to pressure the government to close all entry points to China, where the deadly Chinese coronavirus has now killed 360 as of Monday, according to national and provincial Chinese health committees. More than 17,000 have been infected and 478 people deemed recovered from the disease.

Thailand’s Health Ministry delivered hopeful news Sunday with a claim that an elderly infected patient recovered from the virus after receiving “anti-virals used to treat flu and HIV,” according to AFP. The development has not been independently verified.

Writing in the New York Times on Sunday, Hannah Beech cataloged some of the bad science and poor advice being promoted around Southeast Asia, often by the very officials tasked with safeguarding public health. Myanmar has yet to report any infections, she wrote was likely because they lack the means to test for it.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul also said plans to evacuate Thais from Wuhan were now scheduled for Tuesday.

In Hong Kong, thousands of medical workers will begin a five-day strike against the government today after the latter refused to shut all entry points to China amid the deadly disease outbreak.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam did not attend negotiations with the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance and the Hospital Authority on Sunday. More than 3,000 medical workers-slash-union members voted the day before to go on strike.

Singaporean officials said that two people who were evacuated from China came home infected, raising the number of confirmed cases there to 18 since the outbreak began. All were in stable condition, the health ministry said. The virus has now been spread to at least 20 countries outside of China.

The Chinese government had been rushing two quarantine hospitals to completion in Wuhan, where the virus was first detected in mid-December. The 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital is expected to receive patients today, according to People’s Daily.

Singapore has also increased travel restrictions by expanding a travel ban to anyone who’s visited China in the past two weeks. Fifteen people have been refused entry as of Sunday, the immigration authority said. Most were from nations other than China.

The government also began giving out free surgical masks Saturday, limited to four per household, as the demand for face protection surges.

Malaysia is expected to evacuate 132 people from Wuhan today: 108 Malaysians and their foreign dependents. They will return home aboard an AirAsia flight and be placed in quarantine upon arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Six Malaysian embassy officials already landed in Wuhan yesterday to help with repatriation.

Indonesia evacuated 243 Indonesians from Hubei province on Sunday. All of them landed on Batam island and subsequently transferred to the Natuna Besar Island military base in the Riau Islands.

A video of the evacuees being sprayed with disinfectant as they exited the Batik Air aircraft has gone viral.

The first patient to die of the disease outside China was reported Saturday in the Philippines, the World Health Organization said yesterday, adding that the deceased was a close contact of the first confirmed patient in the country.

The victim was a 44-year-old patient from Wuhan who appeared to be infected prior to arrival, BBC reports.


Thailand prosecutes pair for sharing ‘misinformation’ about Wuhan virus as WHO declares global health emergency

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