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Started by thaiga, May 01, 2020, 03:58:33 PM

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Latin America's Virus Victims, And The Spaces They Leave Behind
An untouched exercise bike, a guitar that has gone silent, an empty couch -- these are just a few of the cherished possessions and everyday habits that tell the story of those who have died from Covid-19.

The global pandemic has claimed nearly one million lives, about a third of those in Latin America, where countries with overstretched medical resources are bracing for a new wave.

Across the region, AFP's photographers met the families of several victims, who have been forced to contemplate the empty spaces their loved ones have left behind.

Victoria del Carmen says she still makes coffee every morning for her son Franklin Rivera, a Salvadoran photojournalist who was struck down by the virus at 52.

When he was well, Rivera liked to use an exercise bike in his modest Ciudad Delgado house on the outskirts of the capital, San Salvador. Now, it sits unused. "No one can believe he is no longer with us," says his sister Geraldina Juarez. "We can't describe this emptiness."

To try to fill the void, his family are drawn to a box full of his old press credentials, eager to see his face once again. Rivera's slow decline from the coronavirus began with a throat ailment on June 22 and then a urinary tract infection.

When he was finally diagnosed with Covid-19, he self-isolated at home. Juarez remembers how tired he became, saying: "He could no longer walk much. He spent his days on his deck chair, which he set up in the yard."

He died after a lightning storm hit the city, unable to get a doctor with the emergency services at full stretch. In the yard, the blue deck chair is still there, in the shade of a tree -- empty.

Paulo Roberto's blue guitar still hangs on the wall in his house in the southeastern Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.

The small sofa where the 75-year-old liked to sit still bears his imprint.

"He used to spend a lot of his time on this sofa in the living room to watch films, documentaries and take a nap," said his wife Maria Candida Silveira.

The pandemic has taken a tough toll on the family of Roberto, who died in June.

Two of his four daughters contracted the virus, but only one lived to tell the tale. His 68-year-old wife fell gravely ill, but survived after a period in intensive care. Now Silveira finds it difficult to put his absence into words.

"Sometimes you remember little details, moments we spent together, happy moments," she said.

"The memory of his music also remains, especially the old songs he loved to play and sing."

There is some consolation in knowing he was able to fulfill his dying wish: seeing his great-granddaughter Dudinha one more time.

"I made a video call from my phone. He was sitting on the bed, laughing and playing with her over the phone. He managed to say goodbye to her," she recalled.

Hugo Lopez Camacho's room stands as a monument to a humble life.

A blanket decorated with a football motif covers his single bed. His pillowcase is embroidered with the phrase "I think of you." A crucifix hangs on a brick wall.

Lopez Camacho lived on the property of a primary school in a Mexico City neighborhood, where his father is the caretaker.

He died in the same hospital where he had worked as an orderly for 14 years, wheeling patients to and from the surgical unit. He was 44.

At first, it seemed like he had a bad cold or the flu. Lopez Camacho had headaches. Then he started having trouble breathing.

He lost consciousness when he was hospitalized in late April. His mother never saw him again. He called when doctors said they would have to intubate him.

"He knew what was going to happen," his sister recalls.

Mexico's huge virus toll meant a backlog for funeral services, and the family had to wait for his remains to be handled.

They finally had to have him cremated, which was not their initial wish.

And now they have to wait again, to be allowed to bury his ashes in the family crypt, along with those of his grandmother.

Oscar Farias was a joker, and an expert in the art of the "asado," or grilling meat -- an institution in Argentina.

The 81-year-old former metal worker died alone in hospital in April, his family kept away by strict virus prevention protocols.

"It was the most devastating and overwhelming thing," says his daughter Monica, 45.

She wasn't even able to bring him a blanket when he called to say he was cold. They said their goodbyes on the phone.

"When I told him we would go and eat a pizza and have some wine when he got better, we were really saying goodbye," Monica says.

She had to sign the authorization for his cremation without even seeing his coffin.

She will keep in her mind an image of her father seen in a family photo -- a happy man, grilling some meat, and listening to tango on the radio.   
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Tourist-free Phuket a 'ghost island'  bangkokpost.com
Go-go dancers sit playing on their phones in empty bars lining deserted streets as this tourist island continues to reel from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic with little sign of any recovery soon.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


"Ting Mong" scarecrows are poping up all over cambodia to ward off the coronavirus. "Ting Mong" is an ancient superstition to ward off diseases and evil spirits wishing to bring harm on ones family. ting tong you might think- Cambodia appears to escaped the brunt of the pandemic, registering just 283 infections and no deaths - though sceptics say the low toll could be due to a lack of testing. but the belief might make some feel secure with no harm done
here's the story msn.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Virus, what virus? India gets back to work
India is on course to top the world in coronavirus cases, but from Maharashtra's whirring factories to Kolkata's thronging markets, people are back at work -- and eager to forget the pandemic for festival season.

After a strict lockdown in March that left millions on the brink of starvation, the government and people of the world's second-most populous country decided life must go on.

Sonali Dange, for instance, has two young daughters and an elderly mother-in-law to look after. She was hospitalised this year in excruciating pain after catching the coronavirus.

But after the lockdown exhausted the family's savings, the 29-year-old had to return to work at a factory where she earns 25,000 rupees ($340) a month.

"Now that I have recovered, I am no longer so scared of the disease," she told AFP amid the din of machinery at the Nobel Hygiene plant east of Mumbai.

The pandemic's confirmed fatality rate has been heaviest in richer nations with older populations -- the US death toll is double that of India despite having only a quarter of the population.

Poor countries have suffered far worse economic pain, with the World Bank predicting 150 million people could fall into extreme poverty worldwide.

Many children in the developing world are now working to help their parents make ends meet, activists say, while thousands of young girls have been forced into marriage.

In Varanasi in northern India, 12-year-old Sanchit no longer attends school and instead collects cloth discarded from bodies before cremation on the city's ghats.

"On a good day, I earn around 50 rupees (70 US cents)," the boy told AFP.

The IMF projects India's GDP will contract by 10.3 percent this year, the biggest slump of any major emerging nation and its worst since independence in 1947.

When India went into lockdown, it was a human catastrophe, leaving millions in the informal economy jobless, penniless and destitute almost overnight.

No one wants to go back to that, said Gargi Mukherjee, 42, as she shopped in the New Market area of Kolkata, thronging with festival-season customers, many without face masks.

"For survival, people have to come out and do their jobs. If you don't earn, you cannot feed your family," she told AFP.

Experts caution that the October-November season -- when Hindus celebrate major festivals such as Durga Puja, Dussehra and Diwali -- may trigger a sharp increase in infections, as consumers crowd markets to snap up big-ticket items on discount.

"Of course corona is to be feared. But what can I do? I can't miss the moments of Durga Puja," said housewife Tiyas Bhattacharya Das, 25.

"Durga Puja comes once in the year, so I cannot miss the enjoyment of the shopping."

Sunil Kumar Sinha, principal economist at the Mumbai-based India Ratings and Research agency, said Indians faced a stark choice.

"People have to choose whether to die of hunger or risk getting a virus that may or may not kill you," he told AFP.

Indeed India's relatively low mortality rate -- about 1.5 percent of its more than seven million cases -- has surprised many who warned coronavirus would lay waste to its crowded cities, beset by poor sanitation and crumbling public hospitals.

Even accounting for some likely undercounting, it is evident that the nightmare scenario of dead bodies piled in the streets as seen during the 1918 flu pandemic has mercifully not materialised.

The unexpected reprieve has given Prime Minister Narendra Modi leeway to resist a fresh lockdown, with the human toll -- and political cost -- of another shutdown higher than seeing case numbers soar.

But Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, warned the government should not simply let the virus run its course.

"In order to open up, you need to intensify public health measures... If you completely take your foot off the brakes, the virus will take off too," Mukherjee told AFP.

Last month, the Indian Medical Association slammed the Modi government for its "indifference" to the sacrifices of front-line staff in one of the world's worst-funded health care systems.

"It appears that they are dispensable," it said.

Back in Kolkata, bookseller Prem Prakash, 67, was philosophical.

"You have to leave some things to fate," he told AFP.

"Fearing death too much is not a solution. When that comes, you should accept it gracefully."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Mick O'Reilly, Foreign Correspondent
4 hrs ago

Why Boris Johnson can't catch a break in the UK
Last Saturday was a miserable day across much of the British Isles. Storm Aiden brought buckets of rain, lashing winds and a dark coldness that reminded too many of the long winter months to come. On a night like that, where ducks sought refuge and you'd face cruelty charges for putting a milk bottle out for the next morning's rounds, the only thing to do was to snuggle up on the couch, turn up the heating and turn on the television.

Sure enough, as happenstance would have it, the new season of Strictly Come Dancing was beginning in earnest on the BBC. It's a highly popular programme, one that sees a range of public, sporting and pop personalities teamed up with a professional dance partner. One of the dozen teams that start off are eliminated each week, and the teams have to rumba, salsa and jive their way to success. Viewers vote, and the winner is revealed in the week before Christmas.

Even the start of the new season was sideswiped by a much-delayed press conference and national broadcast from 10 Downing Street, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to unveil plans for putting England back into a four-week national lockdown come 12:01am on November 5. A damp squall outside, a damp squib on the telly. It was the worst kept secret of the day, with the details of the lockdown appearing in the Saturday morning papers — a full 12 hours before Johnson popped up on screens to deliver the bad news.

He simply can't catch a break — partly because for weeks he'd insisted on a regional approach to shutting down parts of England as coronavirus cases soared to well past 400 for 100,000 people in Manchester, Liverpool and a vast swathe of northern England from the Mersey to the Tyne and up to the border with Scotland. And partly too because he was advised by his scientific advisers to shut England down again as early as September 21 — a full six weeks of wasted opportunity before he finally did indeed take a decision for Lockdown 2.0.

The scientists said that if the lockdown period included part of the schools' half-term holidays, a two-week total lockdown might be enough. Boris, of course, if never one for full measures when he might be able to get away with some other convoluted idea instead — maybe it's his own personal version of original thinking — and decided to go for a four-week lockdown instead, but keeping schools and universities open in some sort of vast uncontrolled Petri dish experiment
Economic hibernation and shut down

The ironic thing is that governments across the rest of the British Isles, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland too, had already taken the decision weeks before to re-enter economic hibernation and shut down.

Now, just as England enters its latest lockdown, Wales will be emerging from a three-week lockdown which meant that basically everything closed and stores were only allowed to sell essential goods only. Of course, part of the issue in Wales has been a great debate as to what qualified as essential — plenty to ponder on Pontypool and Prestatyn when you're in strict social distancing protocols.

For weeks too Northern Ireland has been under lockdown, with the devolved government there taking decisive action when cases soared in Derry and Strabane in particular. In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also detailed a five-level status — with only the 2 million or so who live in the central belt between Glasgow and Edinburgh in Tier 3, with most of the north and outlying islands in Tier 1. Nowhere had been put in Tier 5.

But Boris spent three weeks coming up with his three-tier plan, then another three weeks haggling with local leaders over funding to try and subsidise the lowest-paid workers who were due to earn two-thirds of minimum wage. Try paying rent and feeding yourself on £6 (Dh24) an hour in England never mind keeping warm when the likes of Storm Aiden comes howling through for a wet weekend.
National furlough scheme

But what is absolutely galling to all three devolved leaders in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast, as well as in the councils that have been beaten up and bruised by weeks of haggling over pennies with the Johnson government, is that as soon as it appeared that cases in London were on the rise, there was yet another of a long series of sharp U-turns by Boris. The national furlough scheme, which those regional leaders had been begging for weeks to be extended — it was supposed to run out just as Johnson was addressing the nation last Saturday — has now been extended until the end of Lockdown 2.0. Yet another example, they say, of how London and the south is treated with kid gloves compared to everywhere else.

The prime minister was at pains to say the reason this was being done was to ensure families might be able to get together for Christmas in limited ways. But as soon as the Sunday morning talk shows came around, senior Conservative minister Michael Gove lets the cat out of the bag that Lockdown 2.0 might be extended well beyond its December 2 reopening date. That won't happen, Johnson says. But now, after 15 separate policy reversals, U-turns and abrupt change of plans since March, few think he has any political capital left to be spent in the trust column.

The lockdown, Johnson assured the people of England, would also allow the government to implement his touted track-and-trace scheme. On Tuesday, the scientists advising the government said the whole scheme was a mess and would be better off being run by the regional leaders at a local level. Soon enough, there'll be a hard border in name running between England and Wales and England and Scotland — a no-deal Brexit anyone? — to keep the English out, when the devolved regions are coming out of lockdown.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


COVID-19: 'Humble' boss of firm with '90% effective' vaccine cycles to work and does not own a TV
Professor Ugur Sahin says the "recognition is nice", but his focus is firmly on the science, not the fame.

A week ago, few outside the scientific community knew Professor Ugur Sahin's name.

Now, he's something of a global celebrity.

Via television coverage alone, however, he wouldn't be aware of it. The man whose company - BioNtech - is valued in the billions does not own a TV, and says he simply concentrates on his work.

On Monday, Pfizer announced the vaccine it has been developing with BioNTech is 90% effective in preventing people getting coronavirus.

We spoke to him via zoom because he's limiting his physical contact with people at the moment. But even at a distance you got a sense of the man.

'Humble' was the word his colleagues had used with us about him, and the lack of ego, given BioNTech's success with the COVID-19 vaccine, is profound.

Funny, warm and self-effacing from the start, he told us that "relief" was the overwhelming emotion he was feeling.

Relief that the work he'd applied his company's resources to for almost a year had secured results way beyond his expectations. Relief that a vaccine to tackle the global virus was close to getting approval.

But never did he see it as HIS achievement. There was no sense of personal triumphalism.

He talked constantly about collaboration - not just within his workforce in Germany, but between companies around the world.

His focus is on the vaccine - on the science. Not the fame. Although he did concede the "recognition is nice".

If the jab gets the go-ahead, it will not just be more fame Prof Sahin will be getting, but fortune, too.

"Will you still ride to work on a bicycle?" I asked. Definitely, he replied, adding: "It's the most efficient way to get around."

And, anyway, he doesn't have a driving licence.

"Will fame change you?" I asked. Not at all, came the reply. "I was middle class and it's completely fine to live a normal life," Prof Sahin said.

And you believe him.

We spoke to him, too, about how much focus there has been on him as a Turkish immigrant, even though he has lived in Germany since he was four.

He said: "I got a lot of messages from Turkish immigrants because it made them feel proud, because immigration comes with a bit of suspicion.

"People who are immigrants believe things like this could change things."

He added that it's fine to reference his background but it shouldn't be the focus.

Prof Sahin hopes people will begin getting the vaccine by mid-December.

But he warns that it's not a panacea. Wear a mask, he said: Be careful.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Flights grounded, Thai Airways pilot becomes Grab driver
Some pilots are spending more time on the ground these days due to the pandemic-induced travel restrictions. One Thai Airways pilot is using his time away from the air to get to know the traffic on the ground as a Grab driver.

"The sky is closed," pilot Mahesak Wongpa wrote on Facebook in a post sharing his story about becoming a Grab driver. Wahesak says he needed to do something useful in his spare time. While driving a car for Grab makes less money than flying a plane, Mahesak says being a Grab driver has a "very high moral value."
Here's the story from thethaiger.com
SOURCE: Facebook
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Hunger, death, exploitation: The plight of the poor in India in the pandemic
The country pulled millions out of poverty only recently, but about 400 million Indians are now at risk of falling deeper into destitution because of the dual onslaught of COVID-19 and economic disaster. Can they beat the odds?

For months this year, while Avdhesh Chaudhary was back at home, his family went hungry most of the time, surviving on whatever they could lay their hands on.

"We ate only one meal a day. If we ate in the morning, then we wouldn't eat at night. Or if we ate at night, then we wouldn't eat in the morning," recounted the 32-year-old from Uttar Pradesh state. "The children used to cry day and night." 
full article channelnewsasia.com

WARNING the clip below might contain some distubing scenes

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


A year after Wuhan alarm, China seeks to change Covid origin story
Reports in state media signal an intensifying propaganda effort to place the birth of the virus in other countries

Nearly a year after doctors identified the first cases of a worrying new disease in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the country appears to be stepping up a campaign to question the origins of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

State media has been reporting intensively on coronavirus discovered on packaging of frozen food imports, not considered a significant vector of infection elsewhere, and research into possible cases of the disease found outside China's borders before December 2019.

The official People's Daily newspaper claimed in a Facebook post last week that "all available evidence suggests that the coronavirus did not start in central China's Wuhan".

"Wuhan was where the coronavirus was first detected but it was not where it originated," it quoted Zeng Guang, formerly a chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, as saying. A foreign ministry spokesman, asked about state media reports that the virus originated outside China, said only that it was important to distinguish between where Covid-19 was first detected and where it crossed the species barrier to infect humans.

"Although China was the first to report cases, it doesn't necessarily mean that the virus originated in China," Zhao Lijian told a briefing. "Origin tracing is an ongoing process that may involve multiple countries and regions."

Chinese scientists have even submitted a paper for publication to the Lancet – although it has not yet been peer-reviewed – that claims "Wuhan is not the place where human-to-human Sars-CoV-2 transmission first happened", suggesting instead that the first case may have been in the "Indian subcontinent".

Claims that the virus had origins outside China are given little credence by western scientists. Michael Ryan, director of the health emergencies programme at the World Health Organization (WHO), said last week that it would be "highly speculative" to argue that the disease did not emerge in China. "It is clear from a public health perspective that you start your investigations where the human cases first emerged," he told a news briefing in Geneva.

Reports of Covid circulating in Italy in autumn 2019, based on samples from a cancer unit, seem "weak", said Prof Jonathan Stoye, a virologist at the Francis Crick Institute in London. "The serological data [from Italy] can most likely be explained by cross-reactive antibodies directed against other coronaviruses." In other words, antibodies found in the cases in Italy had been triggered in individuals who had been infected by different coronaviruses, not those responsible for Covid-19.

"What appears certain is that the first recorded cases of the disease were in China," added Stoye. "It thus remains most likely that the virus originated in China."

And while traces of coronavirus have been found on frozen food packaging, scientists think that represents a very low risk for a disease now believed to be overwhelmingly transmitted through respiratory droplets.

A positive test "doesn't indicate infectious virus, just that some signal from the virus is present on that surface," Andrew Pekosz of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University told AP. "I've seen no convincing data that Sars-CoV-2 on food packaging poses a significant risk for infection."

But as the human and economic toll of the pandemic mounts, Beijing is keen to protect its reputation at home and abroad. Covid-19 has now infected over 60 million people and killed nearly 1.5 million.

Since recovering from the devastation of its own initial outbreak, China has sought to bolster its standing abroad with medical aid.

It is now also promoting several vaccines it has in late-stage development as part of its contribution to the "global good", offering help with manufacturing and funding immunisation drives. But resentment at Beijing's role in unleashing the pandemic may ultimately prove harder for China to tackle than the disease itself.

"China is still struggling to deal with the fact that it is held responsible for the "original sin" of the outbreak, which undercuts virtually every effort to salvage its image," said Andrew Small, a China scholar and senior fellow with the German Marshall Fund, a US thinktank.

"Recent months have shown what a catastrophic impact the pandemic has had for China in international public opinion."

He does not think there is any doubt in the minds of senior Chinese leadership about the origin of the virus, and sees the focus on reporting possible alternative origins as a propaganda campaign.

The reports fit an internal narrative of a strong China led by an efficient Communist party. Domestically, Beijing has promoted its enormous success in virtually eradicating the disease and returning life within its borders to something like normal. Internationally, China's aims probably include introducing some doubt for global audiences who are likely to believe it, turning basic facts into a "contested, politically sensitive matter" in relations with Beijing, Small said.

China's questioning of the origin of the virus in Wuhan might be more credible if it was supporting an independent investigation into the disease, but instead authorities have repeatedly proved obstructive.

WHO investigators who visited Wuhan earlier this year were not able to visit the food market linked to the initial outbreak. A new team is expected to head to China soon to build on initial work by a Chinese team, but they still don't have a date for travel, with the WHO saying only that they will travel "in due time".

Understanding the origins of Covid-19 is vital to efforts to prevent the next pandemic. Unfortunately, for now Beijing seems more focused on the question of who should carry blame for the disease, than on understanding where it came from.

"What we're seeing at the moment is indicative of where the Chinese government wants all this to come out – and that place is certainly not an open, accountable effort to determine what went wrong and ensure that it never happens again," Small said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Johnnie F.

Nobody should waste his mind on where the virus originated. There will be theory after theory, no facts. It spread while people weren't aware of it. Who can be blamed for not being aware of what isn't common knowledge already?

How the virus can be contained and finally eradicated is important. The blame game doesn't get us anywhere near that.

As long as all people don't understand that it is also up to them, whether the virus can spread through them, and act responsible, we're in danger, unless we choose to be eremites.

To me the Chinese seemed to act responsible once they were aware. I can't say that generally of people in Europe and the Americas.


Quote from: Johnnie F. on November 29, 2020, 08:40:15 PM

To me the Chinese seemed to act responsible once they were aware. I can't say that generally of people in Europe and the Americas.

and so they did - As it turns out, they are very nimble when it comes to the overall sense of survivability. There is a Thai saying, Au tua rod pen yod dee -- to save oneself is a great task.

the blame game  ::)
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Quote from: Johnnie F. on November 29, 2020, 08:40:15 PM
Nobody should waste his mind on where the virus originated.
You cannot stop curiosity, it's ingrained in most, most humans are of a curious nature, people want to know the answers to things, even if there's no obvious benefit.

WHO says 'will do everything' to find Covid-19 origins
The World Health Organisation insisted Monday it would do everything possible to find the animal origins of Covid-19, insisting that knowledge was vital to preventing future outbreaks.

"We want to know the origin and we will do everything to know the origin," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.

He insisted the UN health agency was intent on getting to the bottom of the mystery, and urged critics who have accused it of handing the reins of the probe to China to stop "politicising" the issue.

"WHO's position is very, very clear. We need to know the origin of this virus, because it can help us prevent future outbreaks," Tedros said.

The United States, which with more than 262,000 deaths is the country hardest hit by the pandemic, has been harshly critical of the WHO's handling of the crisis and has accused it of kowtowing to China and of dragging its feet on investigating how the outbreak first started.

Other critics have also voiced concern that the agency may have allowed China to dictate the terms of an international investigation into the origins of the virus, which first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

Since then, more than 1.46 million people have died and nearly 63 million have been infected worldwide.

The WHO has for months been working to send a team of international experts, including epidemiologists and animal health specialists, to China to help probe the animal origin of the novel coronavirus pandemic and how the virus first crossed over to humans.

The organisation sent an advance team to Beijing in July to lay the groundwork for the international probe.

But it has remained unclear when the larger team of scientists would be able to travel to China to begin epidemiological studies to try to identify the first human cases and their source of infection.

Last week, the WHO's emergencies chief Michael Ryan said the agency was hoping to send the international team to Wuhan "as soon as possible".

Tedros meanwhile rejected on Monday criticism over lacking transparency on the probe, stressing that the names of the experts on the team and the terms of reference had been made public.

"There is nothing to hide. We want to know the origin. I don't want to have any confusion on that."

Scientists initially believed the killer virus jumped from animals to humans at a market selling exotic animals for meat in the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected late last year.

But experts now think the market may not have been the origin of the outbreak, but rather a place where it was amplified.

It is widely assumed that the virus originally came from bats, but the intermediate animal host that transmitted it between bats and humans remains unknown. AFP 

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Virus Robs Many Expats in Thailand the Joy of Christmas Reunions
For almost every year during the 10 years she's lived in Thailand, American expat Aimee Seaman embarked on a 40-hour flight from Bangkok to her hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska to celebrate Christmas with her family.

"We always open Christmas stockings, go to the Christmas Eve service, and get new pyjamas," she recalled wistfully. "We open presents on Christmas morning and bake cinnamon rolls for breakfast, then watch Christmas movies as the kids play with their new stuff."

But like many other foreign nationals residing in Thailand, Seaman will have to skip the family get together this year, thanks to strict travel restrictions that remain in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"COVID is the reason I can't go home, and that's really sad," she said. "I had plans to surprise my sister for her 40th birthday, and that's been dumped into the ocean."

Although the notion of being forced to spend Christmas in a relatively safe place like Thailand doesn't seem to be a punishment – the kingdom has recorded 4,246 infections since the start of the year, a fraction of a daily count in many countries – the comfort comes wrapped with a sense of guilt, loneliness, and the persistent worries for the loved ones struggling to live with the pandemic back home.

"I had anxiety whenever my mom had to travel," said Jessica Teal from Iowa. "I thought, 'Is my family gonna get COVID?' I feel almost guilty, since it seems safe here in Thailand and in the U.S. it seems crazy."

She added, "Seeing family is a part of being human. If I could go home right now, I totally would."

It's not uncommon for expats here to know someone who's been infected with the coronavirus in their home countries, like Seaman, whose sister – a single mom – reportedly contracted the virus from her boss.

"She had to be isolated in one part of the house away from her teenage sons while grandma dropped off groceries, and her sons cooked for themselves and did online learning," Seaman said.

Her sister, fortunately, has recovered, but the ordeal took a toll for Seaman.

"I had a minor mental breakdown," she said. "It's a scary thing to be so far away from your family."

Teal said the coronavirus also infected her best friend's family; the woman and her baby were thankfully asymptomatic, but her husband had fallen ill because of the virus for a staggering 52 days.

"Every day that passes I think, 'Am I gonna get a call that someone in my immediate family got it?'" Teal said.

Although it's possible for expats to leave Thailand and visit their home countries for Christmas, the bureaucratic hurdles of paperwork and financial costs for a return trip are too forbidding for many.

To re-enter Thailand, the travelers must apply for a number of documents, including ...

full article khaosodenglish.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Every problem has a solution reports nationthailand.com in covid times a new way to send money to relatives and friends, stretching a rope across the river and slipping cash or medicines across in a bottle.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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