BANGKOK: The western media have failed to widely report the announcement on March 4th in China by its Academy Of Sciences that the Convid coronavirus has already mutated into two strains. Nor have they clamped down on the dangerous insistence that the virus is the equivalent to the common flu which is fake news of the most egregious kind, however well-intentioned.

Thailand has announced more measured steps in the last 24 hours as it cancelled visa on arrival facilities for China and 17 other countries as well as suspending visa exemptions for Italy, Hong Kong and South Korea. However, the striking inability of Europe to take stronger control measures to protect its elderly population has exposed the world to a historical crisis. It threatens both people’s lives and the health of the global economy. The situation is also being exacerbated by fussy and inaccurate media reporting.

The announcement by US President Diabld Trump that travel from Europe is to be suspended has galvanised the world. It comes after Thailand introduced further visa restrictions announced by Minister of the Interior General Anupong Paojinda (inset top right) on Wednesday. The death rate in Italy is now 6.7% with over 12 thousand infections which grew by over 2,000 alone in the last 24 hours. Ireland has just announced that all its schools and offices are to shut. Europe has emerged the biggest threat to Thailand and the main war theatre now against the deadly Covid 19 coronavirus threat which is not just another flu.

Thailand announced a further eleven new coronavirus infections on Thursday following six on Wednesday bringing the country’s total number of infections to seventy.

The announcement was made by Sukhum Karnchanapimai, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Public Health.

Young Thai people’s experience shows how the coronavirus disease occurs and develops

Those infected were a group of young people who met up with visitors from Hong Kong on February 21st.

They started to develop symptoms of the disease on February 25th but nevertheless still engaged in social activities with Thai friends on the nights of the 27th and 29th. 

The case gives a fascinating insight into how the virus turns from being a mild range of symptoms into something more serious over a ten-day to two week period.

Group of 15 shared drinking glasses and cigarettes on two nights out at the end of February

The permanent secretary outlined how the group of 15 people shared glasses and cigarettes on the two nights out at the end of February.

Finally, the group sought treatment at a hospital on Wednesday, March 4th. 11 tested positive for the disease while 4 who did not drink or smoke, were found to be negative.

Thailand remains remarkably preserved

Thailand has, so far, remained remarkably preserved from the potentially devastating effects of the virus.

The kingdom, along with Singapore and Hong Kong, is now being held up to the public in Europe and the United States as an example of how the coronavirus can be held in check.

Situation in Italy is a warning to the world

The situation in Europe is deteriorating with the death toll in Italy rising to 833 with a total number of confirmed cases at 12,464.

The death toll in the previous 24 hours to Wednesday alone was 196 people.

The worrying aspect of this is that this equates to a mortality rate of 6.7% on a large number of infections. The reason so far being given is that Italy has Europe’s oldest population.

Approximately 37% of the Italian population is over 55 years of age. The median age in the country is over 47 years compared to, for instance, 38 for the United States.

Coronavirus is already proving politically divisive

Elsewhere in Europe, the spread of the disease has been astonishing. It is already proving politically divisive as the European political construct of solidarity is being blamed by far-right groups and populists for the inability of authorities to control the spread. The situation is quite similar to the dithering and confusion experienced during the migrant crisis of 2015.

European leaders are adding to the turmoil with Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, telling the German public, in her first pronouncement on the outbreak now taking on historic proportions, that 70% of the German population could contract the disease.

Ireland’s top medical advisor warns that in worst case scenario 85,000 people could die from the virus

These figures are quite alarming and difficult for western populations to absorb. The media is part of the problem.

For instance, the fears for the world economy after China’s shutdown in February, seen in plain sight were so alarming that for 4 weeks the mainstream media ignored the obvious for fear of causing panic.

In Ireland, a small European country with a population of under 5 million, the government’s leading advisor Dr Tony Holohan has warned that in a worst-case scenario, up to 85,000 people could perish.

Ireland, on Thursday evening, announced the closure of schools and offices as authorities in Europe finally get the message that this is not a drill.

 ‘It is possible we are facing events that are unprecedented in modern times,’ said Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Tuesday after the Irish government agreed a €3 billion (฿100 billion) emergency financial package of supports for the economy.

Trump suspends all travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days and orders extra screening

The danger of the threat in Europe can be seen from the announcement by US President Donald Trump on Wednesday night that all passenger travel from Europe was being suspended for 30 days from midnight on Friday. This was later corrected by the White House to midnight on Saturday.

The US move means that US citizens may still travel but will be directed to certain airports with more intensive health screening measures.

Western media ignores March 4th news from China that the virus has already mutated with type L and S

Another notable exception from media coverage is the absence of reporting the bombshell news that there are two strains of the virus.

This was announced by the Chinese Academy of Science earlier this month working with Peking and Shanghai Universities.

One strain, identified as L was said to be more aggressive than type S.

The Chinese scientists confirmed that they believe that this virus has mutated. 

Virus is like the flu – the height of fake news

Finally, as world media struggles to report on this crisis factually and accurately for fear of creating panic, one bit of fake news must be put to bed.

This virus is not, in critical terms, equivalent to the normal flu except that for 70 to 80% of sufferers, it will present as a mild infection.

The problem is the mortality rate and its infectiousness which appears to be far higher. 

Some medical sources suggest it is twice as infectious. In relation to the mortality rate, the data is clear based on confirmed cases, it is exceedingly more dangerous.

Worldwide mortality rate has crept up to 3.67% but it is 6.7% in Italy where nearly 200 died in one day

Worldwide, the mortality rate has now crept up to 3.67% based on 126,344 infections and 4,640 deaths. The figure for Italy, of course, is nearly double that. 

By comparison, the flu has a mortality rate of 0.1%. This means that this infection worldwide is 37 times more deadly than the flu and in Italy, it is 67 times more likely to result in your death if you are confirmed with the infection after visiting a medical facility.

Ultimately, efforts by western media attempting to prevent panic are only likely to increase the danger from this disease and contrarily, increase the panic further as numbers spiral out of control.

All shops and entertainment venues in Italy now closed down except for essential supplies

In Italy today, all shops and entertainment centres are shut down with only pharmacies and food shops allowed to open but subjected to limited numbers to allow customers to keep a distance.

This is the reality of the pandemic announced on Wednesday night by World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Adhanom.

Thailand announces the suspension of visa exemptions and visa on arrival for 21 countries

Meanwhile, Thailand has announced the suspension of visa on arrival for 18 countries including China and Taiwan.

It has also cancelled the visa exemption status in respect of South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong.

The moves were announced by Minister of the Interior, General Anupong Paojinda on Wednesday.

Kingdom is on the defensive as SET dropped another 6% on Thursday with significant economic damage

Thailand is currently in a defensive posture against the disease as the threat to the country from the virus swings now to the west and in particular, Europe. 

The financial effects of his crisis have yet to fully materialise despite the cataclysmic drops on stock exchanges.

The economic damage, even so far, is highly significant as the world economy stalls following the shutdown in China which has still not yet fully returned to work.

The Thai SET on Thursday fell another 6% while the Dow Jones is now in bear territory.

World leaders are fighting to protect the lives of the old and vulnerable from this killer

It remains to be seen whether, with strong and decisive measures in place around the world taken by individual governments to combat the disease, this can be brought under control quickly.

The disease is a clear threat to the lives of huge numbers of people particularly those who are aged and have underlying health problems.

The death rates for those over 80 is reported to be close to 15% in Italy but doctors are also reporting that a significant number of adults under 55 require intensive hospital care which presents a challenge to health services.

Government stimulus action can help prevent a financial crisis developing within the world’s banking system and there is a view, articulated last week by UK authorities in their strategy for defeating the disease, that warmer weather in western countries will be a key factor in winning the war against Covid 19.

No more sugar coating

The world is already in unknown territory with this outbreak.

We can only hope that this is a lesson we can learn from and move on from because the alternative right now is unthinkable especially if the worst-case scenarios transpire in Europe.

Either way, there is no more time for sugar coating. Forewarned is Forearmed.

Further reading:

Medical cert now required for flyers boarding a plane to Thailand from all high-risk countries through airlines

Thailand ramps up its screening, quarantine and reporting measures for high-risk country arrivals

14 days quarantine confirmed for all passengers from high risk listed countries and now in place with fines

Quarantine for high-risk country passengers still pondered with 4 new cases from Italy and Iran

Government to use disease control areas for returning Thais from South Korea with symptoms of the virus

80% of China’s economy remains shutdown as Thai Deputy PM warns of another economic storm