Quieter response to coronavirus in countries where China holds sway


By: New York Times | Bangkok |

Updated: February 3, 2020 7:27:54 am


coronavirus, coronavirus news, coronavirus Myanmar, coronavirus pakistan, wuhan virus, coronavirus southeast asia An arriving passenger has his temperature checked at Changi Airport, Singapore, Jan. 29, 2020. (Adam Dean/The New York Times)

By Hannah Beech

In Myanmar, loudspeakers broadcast recommendation from Buddhist monks: Seven floor peppercorns, precisely seven, positioned on the tongue will chase away the coronavirus spreading throughout Asia and the world.

In Indonesia, Terawan Agus Putranto, the well being minister, suggested residents to calm down and eschew time beyond regulation work to keep away from the illness, which has killed greater than 300 individuals and contaminated greater than 14,000 others, principally in China.

“To prevent it is very easy as long as your immunity is good,” Terawan stated.

And in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen informed a packed information convention Thursday that he would kick out anybody who was sporting a surgical masks as a result of such measures had been creating an unwarranted local weather of worry.

“The prime minister doesn’t wear a mask,” he stated, “so why do you?”

The World Health Organization has declared the epidemic, which seems to have originated in the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, a world well being emergency. But the message doesn’t appear to be resonating in some elements of Southeast Asia, a magnet for Chinese vacationers and staff.

The area now has the most important cluster of coronavirus sufferers outdoors China. Some governments there have both performed down the specter of the epidemic or overtly anxious about offending a superpower whose financial heft can propel their economies.

Medical specialists fear {that a} delayed response might hasten the unfold of the illness.

Explained: As India evacuates from Wuhan, why is Pakistan insisting on keeping its citizens at coronavirus ground zero?

“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems,” stated Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director common.

On Sunday, the primary abroad demise from the virus, of a 44-year-old Wuhan resident who had died a day earlier, was reported in the Philippines. The virus has unfold to about two dozen countries.

Hours earlier than the demise was introduced, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines ordered a short lived entry ban on most vacationers who had just lately been in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao. Earlier in the week, Duterte, who has introduced the Philippines nearer to China whereas distancing it from the United States, stated there was no cause to bar guests from mainland China, bringing a barrage of criticism from native medical specialists.

“We are not as prepared as first-world countries,” stated Anthony Leachon, a Philippine well being advocate who had urged a short lived entry ban, even when it risked riling Beijing. “Countries should break protocols to save their people.”

With 19 confirmed instances, Thailand has probably the most instances in Southeast Asia, adopted by Singapore with 18. Japan, with 20 confirmed instances, has the second-largest quantity outdoors China.

coronavirus, coronavirus news, coronavirus Myanmar, coronavirus pakistan, wuhan virus, coronavirus southeast asia The temperatures of all buyers getting into the Siam Paragon mall in Thailand are monitored in an try to curb the coronavirus’s unfold, Jan. 31, 2020. (Amanda Mustard/The New York Times)

Thailand introduced Friday {that a} Thai taxi driver had examined optimistic for coronavirus, most definitely after coming into contact with a Chinese traveler. Yet whilst the specter of human-to-human transmission grows, the nation’s well being officers have recommended towards undue concern.

One of the confirmed instances in Thailand concerned a Chinese man in the northern metropolis of Chiang Mai who initially examined adverse for the virus after being admitted to a hospital and was subsequently transferred out of an isolation unit to a common ward, stated Rungrueng Kitphati, a spokesman for the nation’s well being ministry.

“The chances of him spreading the disease is very low,” stated Rungrueng, noting that the house between beds in the overall ward was greater than 1 yard. “Our medical staff always wash their hands in and out. It will not be communicable to others.”

Yet in Wuhan, the coronavirus has contaminated medical staff, together with a health care provider who had raised the alarm in regards to the mysterious virus in December, solely to have the native authorities berate him for “illegal behavior.”

As the virus has unfold throughout the area, some governments have remained in denial.

At one hospital in Yangon, the most important metropolis in Myanmar, a slideshow throughout a presentation on stopping the unfold of coronavirus stated, “Don’t be so afraid of the coronavirus. It won’t last long because ‘made in China.’”

“Health is not a joke, and the virus is not a joke either,” stated Aung Aung, a surgeon at Mandalay General Hospital. “I don’t think Myanmar has the modern techniques to know whether the virus is here.”

On Friday, Myanmar introduced its first suspected case, involving a Chinese man who had arrived by aircraft from Guangzhou. Myanmar doesn’t have the capability to check for this particular coronavirus, stated U Zaw Htay, a authorities spokesman. Any samples will want to be despatched to Thailand or Hong Kong, which might take up to every week.

Even high-level officers have been buying and selling in folks cures. After a Facebook consumer in Myanmar wrote a broadly learn tribute to onions as a method to stop transmission of the coronavirus, the chief minister of Tanintharyi Division, U Myint Mg, shared the publish on his Facebook web page.

“The Chinese government has announced that people should consume and have on hand as many onions as they can,” the publish learn, with no foundation in truth.

Cambodia has just one confirmed case of the lethal virus, involving a Chinese nationwide in the boomtown of Sihanoukville, which has been remade by an inflow of tens of 1000’s of Chinese staff. About 3,000 vacationers from Wuhan have flown to Cambodia for the reason that epidemic was introduced final month, in accordance to Cambodian civil aviation authorities.

In a rustic with restricted media freedoms, some Cambodians fear that the total scope of the virus’s potential impact shouldn’t be being reported for political causes. The nation’s well being minister advised that Cambodia’s scorching and humid local weather might chase away the coronavirus.

And China has been pressuring countries not to ban its vacationers, with a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman calling an entry ban enacted by the United States “not in keeping with the facts” and never “in keeping with friendship.”

Hun Sen, the prime minister, who has tethered his nation shut to China, has stated he won’t ban flights from China. Nor will he arrange an effort to evacuate Cambodians from Wuhan, as different nations have performed, he stated, as a result of they “have to continue staying there and joining with Chinese to fight this disease.”

“Is there any Cambodian or foreigner in Cambodia who has died of the disease?” the prime minister requested. “The real disease happening in Cambodia right now is the disease of fear. It is not the coronavirus that occurs in China’s Wuhan city.”

Indonesia, where direct flights from Wuhan introduced vacationers to the vacation island of Bali, has not confirmed any instances of coronavirus, main to considerations about lax monitoring of incoming passengers. The virus has been discovered in Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, three a lot much less populous countries round Indonesia.

Laos, a secretive socialist nation on the border with China, has additionally not confirmed any instances, although numerous Chinese vacationers and staff cycle by means of the nation.

On Saturday, residents of the distant Natuna islands in Indonesia, on the southern shores of the South China Sea, gathered by the a whole lot to protest a call to quarantine about 240 Indonesians airlifted there from Wuhan.

“People are upset,” stated Andes Putra, head of Natuna’s Parliament, noting that native officers had been given scant details about the virus.

Like different countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia relies upon closely on Chinese tourism. On Thursday alone, 10,000 Chinese vacationers canceled their journeys to Bali, in accordance to one trade affiliation. But Sunday, Indonesia stated it was quickly barring guests from mainland China who had been there for 14 days.

coronavirus, coronavirus news, coronavirus Myanmar, coronavirus pakistan, wuhan virus, coronavirus southeast asia Passengers on a ferry from Batam, Indonesia, to Singapore, Feb. 1, 2020. (Adam Dean/The New York Times)

Terawan, the well being minister, has advised that the coronavirus won’t have an effect on individuals who train correctly and sleep amply.

“Don’t fret,” he stated. “Just enjoy and eat enough.”

In Thailand, where usually bustling airports have been emptied of holidaymakers and tourism officers stated that arrivals from China might drop by 80% in the primary 4 months of this yr, Anutin Charnvirakul, the general public well being minister, advisable quickly revoking the nation’s visa-on-arrival program for mainland Chinese vacationers.

But greater than 180,000 Chinese vacationers who had entered Thailand over the previous two months stay in the nation, in accordance to immigration officers.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand known as for Anutin to examine in with tourism officers earlier than submitting a proper proposal to the Cabinet, a course of that would take days.

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