By Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat
BANGKOK, Dec 27 (Reuters) – A private Thai hospital was ordered on Sunday to stop advertising COVID-19 vaccinations for sale in advance on the grounds that no vaccine is yet approved in Thailand.
Vibhavadi Hospital told Reuters its online offer for 1,000 initial reservations for the two-dose Moderna vaccine had been the result of a misunderstanding. With reservations priced at 4,000 baht, the total cost of getting vaccinated would have been 10,000 baht ($330).
As the first governments begin vaccine rollouts around the world, questions have been raised over how the limited supplies are prioritised and whether people will be able to pay to jump the queue.
The Ministry of Health said in a statement that no COVID-19 vaccine had been approved for use in Thailand yet and that advertising one violated hospital regulations.
“The removal of the advertisement was ordered,” it said.
Chaisit Kupwiwat, a director at Vibhavadi Hospital, told Reuters: “There was a misunderstanding and so we’ve stopped the programme… We planned to order the vaccines, but now we’ve stopped.”
The hospital had sought reservations by Jan. 31 for vaccinations later in 2021.
Moderna did not respond immediately to an emailed request for comment on any such sale.
Thailand has signed an advance deal for AstraZeneca’s potential COVID-19 vaccine, but has not set rollout plans for any vaccine yet.
Moderna’s vaccine this month became the second to get emergency use authorisation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.
Moderna has said it will deliver approximately 20 million doses to the U.S. government this year and is expected to have between 100 million and 125 million delivered globally in the first quarter of 2021.
In August, Moderna said it was pricing its vaccine at $32 to $37 per dose for smaller deals.
Thailand is a major hub for medical tourism, drawing patients from Asia, the Middle East and beyond. (Additional reporting by Jiraporn Kuhakan; writing by Matthew Tostevin; editing by Jason Neely)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Coronavirus: Regina police, SHA looking into maskless dance video – Global News
Police and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) are looking into a video circulating on social media that shows people dancing without masks at a Regina bar and restaurant.
The Tap Brewhouse & Liquor Store posted a statement on Facebook this past weekend regarding a video recorded on its premise on Jan. 15.
“There were some young patrons not adhering to the COVID rules and guidelines. They were asked to leave, which they did in a timely manner,” read the statement attributed to The Tap ownership and management group.
“Unfortunately, they decided to dance their way out the door.
“We have strictly followed the guidelines implemented from day one of the pandemic and assure everyone this is a very isolated incident. Because of this incident, we have implemented more supervision & education in our business for the safety of our customers … we sincerely apologize to everyone.”
The Regina Police Service (RPS) said on Monday the matter is in the hands of the SHA, and is working in conjunction with them.
“A number have asked if people will be ticketed under the Saskatchewan’s Public Health Act as a result of this video,” read a RPS statement.
“The short answer is: we do not know; it’s not concluded yet.
“One of the messages from us and (the provincial) government was that each case is evaluated on its own merits. Another theme was that the goal is compliance, not handing out fines (although that is one of the options available) … and the matter will be dealt with appropriately.”
Fines for not following Saskatchewan’s public health orders, in cases where negligence or misconduct have been found, may be $2,000 for individuals and $10,000 for corporations, plus a victim surcharge.
RPS have issued at least nine tickets under the public health orders brought into effect during the pandemic.
COVID-19 restrictions extended in Saskatchewan until Jan. 29
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Quebec high school students back in classroom after month-long break – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, January 18, 2021 10:32PM EST
MONTREAL – Quebec high school students returned to classrooms on Monday following a month-long, extended winter break imposed by the government to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The return of high schoolers came one week after primary schools reopened last Monday. High school students are required to wear procedural masks at all times inside school buildings, and the province is providing each student two masks per day.
Quebec is reopening schools despite imposing a provincewide curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. until at least Feb. 8. and despite ordering most businesses deemed non-essential closed.
Premier Francois Legault has said schools aren’t primary drivers of COVID-19 transmission and that the benefits to children of keeping them open outweigh the risks of contagion.
A recent study by a group of researchers, including some from the Universite de Montreal, indicated schools were, in fact, a significant vector of transmission. Government figures indicate that schools have accounted for about 22.5 per cent of all completed outbreaks in the province – second only to workplaces.
Monday’s return to class coincided with a sharp decrease in the number of reported COVID-19 infections. The province reported 1,634 new COVID-19 cases – including about 200 that were left out of Sunday’s tally due to a reporting delay. Quebec had been recently reporting more than 1,900 cases a day.
Benoit Masse, public health expert at the Universite de Montreal, said it’s too soon to know which way the numbers are trending.
“I would be very careful before we declare victory because I think everybody realized, especially in the last 10 days, that we are in a very, very difficult situation,” Masse said. “I think everybody is making their effort and following the rules.”
He said it’ll take another 10 days to two weeks to determine the epidemiological impact of reopening schools.
“We have to see for a week or two that the early trend that we’re seeing (currently) keeps going down and has an effect on hospitalizations,” Masse said in an interview Monday.
“It’s not going to be tomorrow . . . but we should be able to reach Feb. 8 and see whether we’re going to be in a good position,” he said, referring to the date when the curfew is scheduled to be lifted.
Despite a drop in new infections, authorities reported a rise in hospitalizations Monday after reporting decreases during the previous three days. The number of patients rose by 31, to 1,491, and the number of patients in intensive care rose by two, to 217.
“Before you see a reduction of hospitalizations, you have to see a reduction in the cases,” Masse said.
Quebec announced Monday it has vaccinated three-quarters of long-term care residents with a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
“Vaccination continues to give a first dose to the entire group,” Health Minister Christian Dube wrote on Twitter. Quebec administered 6,845 vaccine doses Sunday, for a total 153,539.
Vaccinations won’t help bring down Quebec numbers in the short term, but Masse said the protection will be needed should cases begin to rise in the spring.
Masse said it’s too early to say whether the curfew is having a direct impact on case numbers. On Monday, Quebec’s Public Security Department reported that 1,429 tickets had been handed out by Quebec police forces relating to the curfew between Jan. 11 and Jan. 17.
Montreal police said they handed out 353 curfew-related tickets and another 583 tickets for contravening public health rules.
Quebec has reported 244,348 infections and 9,087 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, with 215,325 people deemed recovered.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021.
Survey offers glimpse of what could reopen in Manitoba – Winnipeg Free Press
The Manitoba government’s online survey on the easing of COVID-19 restrictions is mostly a public relations exercise. But it does provide insight into what the province may reopen this week — and what is off the table.
The Pallister government is expected to announce as early as Tuesday what changes are in store for public health orders when regulations expire Friday. The easing of restrictions are expected to be minor. Provincial officials have made it clear they don’t want a “yo-yo” approach, where measures are loosened and reinstated every few weeks.
The online survey, which went live Friday, is mostly about optics; an attempt to convince the public they have a real say over public health orders. It may have some impact on government decision-making. Not all low-risk businesses, services or activities can reopen at once. Decisions to open some and not others will be arbitrary. Knowing the priorities of the public could act as a tie-breaker in some cases.
For the most part, though, public health officials will make those decisions on their own.
In the meantime, the survey acts as a short list for what could reopen. It shows what is under consideration and asks respondents to rank options in order of importance. If it’s not listed, it’s probably not on the table.
“Not all activities and services are immediately listed as not all are being considered in the current round of services and activities due to the higher risk of activity,” the survey says.
Bars, city libraries, movie theatres and tattoo parlours are not listed. Presumably, those are not up for consideration. Much to the chagrin of some protesters, the doffing of masks in indoor public places is also not on the table.
Reducing restrictions for places of worship is being considered. In-person services are banned under code-red restrictions. Given the high level of transmission reported in those settings, it seems doubtful those would reopen, even with capacity limits. Respondents were also asked about increasing the five-person limit for funerals and weddings. Those seem more likely.
Expanding retail has a good shot. It will probably be the most significant part of this week’s announcement. Respondents were asked whether they should be allowed to shop without limiting the products they can buy. Right now, stores can only sell essential items, as prescribed by regulation. Considering the low-risk nature of retail and what’s at stake economically for small business owners, eliminating the essential-items list (or at least broadening it) seems likely. With the help of face coverings and capacity restrictions, retail can operate relatively safely.
Barber shops and hairstylists are up for consideration, as are gyms and fitness studios. Those are possibilities.
Greater access to recreation opportunities, including resuming organized sports (such as amateur hockey and indoor soccer) are also on the list. I wouldn’t hold my breath on those. Most organized sports are volunteer-driven and don’t have the resources of public schools to enforce public health measures. Sports for adults, such as beer league hockey and indoor soccer, will probably have to wait.
The most concerning set of questions in the survey is around household gatherings. Once government finally agreed in late November to prohibit people from having visitors in their homes (with some exceptions), COVID-19 cases began to fall. It wasn’t the only reason for the decline, but it was a significant factor. People gathering indoors for prolonged periods without masks is a major source of transmission.
The survey asks respondents for their views on expanding the list of exemptions for household gatherings, returning to a limit of five visitors per home, or maintaining the status quo.
Loosening those measures when Manitoba still has over 100 cases of COVID-19 a day would be a big mistake.
If infection rates and hospital numbers continue to fall, Manitoba could ease restrictions further in late February. For now, baby steps are the name of the game.
Tom has been covering Manitoba politics since the early 1990s and joined the Winnipeg Free Press news team in 2019.
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