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Thailand ‘not able to stop the spread’ of new coronavirus | World News

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Subtle changes are seeping into daily life in Bangkok.

Thermal scanners now stand at the doors of luxury malls and attendants pump disinfectant into the hands of visitors as they stream in.

With 14 cases, Thailand now has the highest confirmed number of coronavirus infections outside China and people are starting to worry.

Disinfectant is pumped into people's hands as they go shopping
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Disinfectant is pumped into people’s hands as they go shopping

“It’s spreading so fast and the information is so hidden, we don’t know the whole picture,” young mother Cathy told me.

Even her four-year-old son obediently wears a surgical mask.

“I’m worried that I’ll get sick and stay in hospital and there isn’t a vaccine,” commuter Nan added.

Already popular because of pollution, face masks are selling out.

The armour of choice, there are none to be found in one of the main shopping districts

“Finished,” shop assistants tell us again and again as we search for fresh supplies.

There are thermal scanners in shopping malls
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There are thermal scanners in shopping malls

Thailand is a top foreign holiday destination for tourists from Wuhan.

About 22,000 people from the city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak have visited in January alone.

Six new cases were confirmed today, five of them involving a family from China’s Hubei province, and the sixth from Chongqing province.

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While all arrivals from China will now be screened and thermal scanned for signs of the disease, the coronavirus is believed to be contagious during the incubation period.

Thus it is feared that while visitors may not have any symptoms, they could in theory be spreading the infection.

That concern is helping to prompt criticism of the government’s response to the crisis.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says they 'expect more people to get sick'
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Public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul says they ‘expect more people to get sick’

The hashtag #crapgovernment was trending top on Twitter in Thailand at the weekend as users complained about the management of the virus and other health issues.

The country’s prime minister says the situation is under control but public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul admitted to Sky News that he expects the number of infections to rise.

“We are not able to stop the spread,” he said.

“Our target is we will be able to detect all carriers entering Thailand and we will apply necessary measures as the situation develops.

“Of course we expect more people to get sick but we are able to identify all of them.”

There is no way of knowing how many more coronavirus infections will emerge in the coming days and weeks, so residents must continue to protect themselves as best they can.

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Coronavirus: Spain orders Madrid lockdown as COVID-19 cases soar | World News

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Residents in Madrid will be banned from leaving the city, except on essential trips, under strict new coronavirus restrictions imposed by the Spanish government.

Currently a hotspot for infection, the Madrid region accounts for more than a third of the 133,604 cases diagnosed in Spain over the past two weeks.

Madrid has 735 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, one of the highest of any region in Europe and double the national rate.

Under the new measures, the capital city’s borders will be closed to outsiders for non-urgent visits.

Another nine cities in the metropolitan area are also affected.

“Madrid’s health is Spain’s health. Madrid is special,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told a news conference to announce the new regulations, which are due to come into force in the coming days. He did not say exactly when.

People will be allowed to cross municipal boundaries to go to work or school, visit the doctor or go shopping, but must remain within the city for leisure activities.

Other measures include the closure of bars and restaurants at 11pm, from a previous curfew of 1am, as well as the closure of public parks and playgrounds.

Social gatherings will be limited to six people.

The conservative regional assembly had already enforced localised lockdowns in 45, mostly poor districts, often with a high immigrant population.

But the new wider restrictions see the central government overriding the regional government after weeks of fighting between the two authorities over what should be done in the city.

This has taken the political polarisation that has characterised much of the response to the pandemic over the past months to new heights, exasperating communities.

Spain has recorded a total of 769,188 cases, more than any other nation in Western Europe. The total death toll stands at 31,791.

“We must be conscious that there are tough weeks, very tough, ahead,” Mr Illa said.

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China’s president Xi Jinping says the world must co-operate on climate change | World News

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China’s president has said the world needs to work together to balance economic development and the destruction of the natural world.

It comes just a week after Xi Jinping promised China – the world’s worst polluter and an economic super power – would be carbon neutral by 2060.

In another landmark speech, he told the UN biodiversity summit: “At present there exists an acceleration of the global extinction of species.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is pictured in his pre-recorded UN address
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It was the president’s second recent pre-recorded UN address

“The loss of biodiversity and degradation of the ecosystem pose a major risk to human survival and development.

“It falls to all of us to act together. We need to respect nature, follow its laws and protect it. We need to find a way for man and nature to live in harmony and balance and coordinate economic development and ecological protection.”

It came as a new study by the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in London collated the findings of 210 scientists from 42 countries.

They estimated forty per cent of plant species are at risk of extinction, hundreds of medicinal plants are threatened and only a tiny fraction of plants are being used for food and fuel.

Professor Phil Stevenson told Sky News: “The attention that is being drawn to biodiversity loss at high levels around the world I think is a really positive thing.

“This report will provide those decision makers, and also individuals at home, with new information and more information on making better decisions about conserving the diversity of plants and funghi.”

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It seems hard to re-imagine China as a champion of climate change and biodiversity given the environmental devastation caused by its break-neck speed of economic transformation. So has China really turned over a new leaf?

Isabel Hilton, CEO of China Dialogue, said: “On the analogy of the prodigal son, isn’t it better that China has got to the point of understanding how damaging its previous policies were, and is now exerting leadership in a number of ways.”

It’s easy to make promises but the world will be watching to see whether those with the power actually make a difference on biodiversity and climate change.

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US presidential debate: ‘A wild ride’ for Pennsylvania viewers | World News

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Much of America stayed at home to watch the big debate.

“The home schooling’s keeping them in,” explained Mike McCloskey, owner of the Railroad Street Bar & Grill in Linfield, Pennsylvania. “Teaching kids in the morning is even harder after a hard night.”









First US presidential debate – highlights

It didn’t prevent a sprinkling of the politically-attuned gathering in this self-styled “upbeat hub for brews,” by the Norfolk Southern rail line that runs freight through their swing state.

In the United States, they say if you don’t win Pennsylvania, you don’t win the country.

After an hour and a half of watching the debate, the verdict in Linfield favoured Donald Trump, albeit not unanimously.

Colleen Dougherty said Mr Trump 'owned' the debate
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Colleen Dougherty said Mr Trump ‘owned’ the debate
John Lappin said Mr Trump 'is a leader of our country. It really isn't much more difficult than that'
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John Lappin said Mr Trump ‘is a leader of our country. It really isn’t much more difficult than that’

Colleen Dougherty told Sky News: “I think that Donald Trump owned this. I don’t think that Joe Biden really had anything to really bring to the table. I was really hoping that he would. And we didn’t really have anything.”

John Lappin saw Mr Trump as the victor. He said: “One came with a piece of paper in front of them that can only read from that. The other one is a leader of our country. It really isn’t much more difficult than that.

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Others didn’t declare a clear winner, but did see a loser – the voting public.

Meredith Warren said: “This is terrible, all around. This is very upsetting to watch, but this is the best representation for our country right now. I think they’re both little kids going back and forth to each other. They didn’t answer any questions.”

Meredith Warren called it 'terrible, all around' and 'very upsetting to watch'
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Meredith Warren called it ‘terrible, all around’ and ‘very upsetting to watch’
Watching the presidential debate in Pennsylvania
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Pennsylvania is seen by many as an election bellwether

Mr McCloskey added: “It was a wild ride, it went right, it went left. There was a lot going on, there was a lot of interruption.

“Right now, watching that, I would feel really bad for the American people. Because there was no order. It was all over the place. And I understand why people look at us as a laughing stock. I don’t believe anybody won that debate.”

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