Thailand and COVID-19 Pandemic’s Effects on Mental Health

As of July 21st, five new cases appeared from Thai nationals who recently returned home from abroad.  Thailand had a total of 3,261 cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic. 95% of these patients have recovered.

Thai epidemiologists have thanked their health care system, which they call one of the finest in the world, for their success and their strict lockdown. However, some of their current troubles come from the mental implications resulting from the pandemic. Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health says that “the next wave of the problem will be mental health.”

Because of the sensitivity regarding this issue, reader discretion is advised. Please read more about this topic here:

NPR “The Dark side of Thailand’s Coronavirus Success”

Author: Camryn Thomas

Laos handles COVID effectively

Despite sharing a border with China, Laos (the Lao People’s Democratic Republic) has effectively handled COVID thus far. Laos has a population of over 7 million and has tested roughly 20,500 with only 19 cases coming back positive.

The first detected cases were registered on March 24th, and the last of the 19 cases was discharged as of June 9th. There have been no new cases since April 12th and no deaths overall.

After two separate Chinese travelers had visited Laos and returned to China and found to have been infected in January, Laos began suspending the issuance of visas to Chinese nationals and reducing its flights to China. There were no other confirmed cases until two months later. With China being the main market for Lao Airlines and the tourist trade also almost completely reliant on China, not many people were traveling in and out of the country, allowing for a full lockdown on March 29th.

With physical testing, social distancing, contact tracing, quarantine, and treatment, Laos was able to contain the virus as much as possible but, like most others, the country is suffering from a recession as a result of the virus. The Lao government has been working with the World Bank to evaluate the economic impact of the pandemic.

Author: Camryn Thomas

Nepal’s case spike and recovery

Since March 24th, Nepal has been under lockdown to help battle the pandemic, and up until May 29th, the confirmed cases were below 1,000 according the the World Health Organization. Since then, cases have spiked to over 17,000.

Despite the considerable surge, the fatalities have been below baseline figures globally, with only 38 deaths so far. One speculative reason behind this figure is that the confirmed cases have been in younger individuals, who have a higher chance at a better outcome than the older populations. The increases have been attributed to Nepalis who are finally returning home from working abroad, and not, as suspected, from the protests that took place in early June.

As of July 14th, Nepal had conducted nearly 290,000 tests and has placed 23,470 people currently in quarantine, according to the Nepali government. According to the Health Ministry, 60.53 percent of the total cases have recovered and returned home.

Author: Camryn Thomas

Bangladesh’s citizens struggle with getting medical care for COVID

As of July 14th, Bangladesh has registered about 190,057 COVID-19 cases and 2,424 deaths. Medical experts say that the real numbers are likely higher because of the lack of testing going on. Though there are roughly 3,000 new cases accumulating each day, hospitals have many empty beds, as citizens are scared to enter hospitals.

In the capital Dhaka, roughly 4,800 of the 6,300 beds set aside for COVID patients are not being used, and there are only 100 patients in a new 2,000-bed field hospital built for the pandemic. In Chittagong, authorities say only half of its dedicated beds are currently filled. According to the health department, the beds aren’t being used because many people are being treated at home. “Most of the patients have mild symptoms. Adequate telemedicine services are available. That may be the reason for empty beds in hospitals,” Nasima Sultana, health department deputy head asserted.

An official for a medical charity has told of the patients hesitations, stating that many have said they’d “rather die at home than die in a hospital.” A survey of 80,000 people carried out with the UN found that 44% of Bangladeshis were “too scared” to even use the government’s COVID helpline. The fear stems from the country’s hospitals not being “patient-friendly.” Rashid e Mahbub, head of the Bangladesh Health Rights Movement spoke on the issue further, “A negative perception have been treated, and that is promoting many patients to stay at home. Few people can afford the expensive private hospitals. […] A significant number of COVID-19 patients are dying at home.”

“We heard the doctors and nurses don’t come near patients for fear of being infected,” an anonymous woman stated. The hospitals had poor reputations before the pandemic, and thousands of wealthier citizens went to Thailand or Singapore for check-ups instead. With borders closed, they are unable to do that. Patients die at home without being followed up by doctors from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

Virologist Nazrul Islam said that the questionable patient management system of the DGHS was resulting in the at-home deaths and the patients staying at home were not being followed up with and not declared recovered on confirmatory tests. He believes that the flawed management will prolong the stay of the virus.

Author: Camryn Thomas

Philippines Financial Aid relief

The Philippines has received around $130.4 million of financial aid so far for the government’s COVID-19 response. The largest donation came from the Project Ugnayan of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation at $29.1 million, followed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at $19.2 million, San Miguel Corporation at $15.22 million, and Unilab at $12.08 million. The World Health Organization reports that the Filipino government was able to obtain a $1.1 billion loan from the World Bank and $1.5 billion from the Asian Development Bank (ADB, coincidentally based in the Philippines) for COVID relief.

However, government critics are asking where the funds are going, as the government hasn’t yet implemented massive COVID-19 testing programs, while several social aid beneficiaries have yet to receive the second wave of grants. As regulations are easing, Filipino families are still facing problems such as a lack of public transportation, unfinished social aid provision, closure of businesses due to distancing regulations, and distance learning difficulties due to the inability of poor families to secure technology and stable internet connection.

As of June 9th, the Department of Health (DOH) has counted 23,732 COVID cases nationwide; 1,071 who have passed away, and 4,736 who have recovered.

The Makati Office of the City Prosecutor and Makati courts are taking precautions – including suspension of face-to-face inquest proceedings, contact tracing, and disinfection – after a prosecutor was exposed to a family member positive for COVID-19. A total of 59 employees of the Department of Justice have tested positive out of the 488 that have been tested.  Senior Assistant Site Prosecutor Roberto Lao advised all prosecutors and staff to work from home – except those on trial duty. Lao said that inquest proceedings for those arrested without a warrant would be moved online, while oath duty, clearance applications, plead filings and motions, and regular filings are suspended until further notice.


Author: Camryn Thomas