COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Get a Covid-19 vaccine in this town and you could win a live cow
From next month, one lucky vaccinated villager in the Mae Chaem district of Chiang Mai province will be randomly chosen every week to win a young cow worth about 10,000 baht ($318.78).

The campaign, set to run for 24 weeks, has been met with enthusiasm in the town of 43,000 since it was announced earlier this week.

"Our vaccine registration numbers have gone from hundreds to thousands in a couple of days," district chief Boonlue Thamtharanurak told Reuters.

"The villagers love cows. Cows can be sold for cash."

More than 4,000 people in priority groups, including those over 60 years old and those with pre-existing conditions, have already registered for their shots, Boonlue said.

The town will start vaccinations on June 7, in line with the government's national rollout.


Other provinces in Thailand have also come up with creative incentives to boost registration, such as gold necklace giveaways, store discount coupons, or cash handouts.

At least 1.64 million of Thailand's 66 million population have already received their first doses and more than 7 million have registered so far.

The Southeast Asian country has been hit by its biggest coronavirus outbreak so far, with the majority of its 119,585 cases and 703 deaths recorded in the past two months.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/20/asia/thailand-covid-vaccines-cows-intl-hnk-scli/index.html

'There is no Singapore variant,' say politicians after Indian opposition leader makes false Covid claims
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal outraged Singapore in a Twitter post a day earlier in which he said a new form of the virus that was particularly harmful to children had come to the city-state, and urged a ban on flights, though there is currently little air travel between the countries due to the pandemic.

"Politicians should stick to facts! There is no 'Singapore variant'," Singapore foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in a social media post on Wednesday.

His ministry issued a statement saying it was "disappointed that a prominent political figure had failed to ascertain the facts before making such claims."

Kejriwal's comments came after Singapore cautioned on Sunday that new variants, such as the one first detected in India, were affecting more children and ordered most schools to shut to contain a recent surge in new cases.


Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also chastised Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi party is the largest in the local assembly and fiercely opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"Irresponsible comments from those who should know better can damage long-standing partnerships. So, let me clarify -- Delhi CM does not speak for India," Jaishankar said in a statement on Twitter.

He said Singapore and India have been solid partners in the fight against Covid-19 and India was grateful for its role as a logistics hub and supplier of medical oxygen that India has badly needed during the second wave.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/19/asia/singapore-india-covid-variant-intl-hnk/index.html

Covid Killed His Father. Then Came $1 Million in Medical Bills.
Insurers and Congress wrote rules to protect coronavirus patients, but the bills came anyway, leaving some mired in debt.

As hospital bills for Covid treatments are coming due, some Americans are finding themselves buried in crushing debt.

One man whose father died from Covid-19 uses an Excel spreadsheet with more than 450 rows to track bills totaling more than $1 million. A teacher in Detroit has depleted $7,000 in savings to pay for treatment so far. A woman in Ohio was being pursued for her deceased husband’s $40,000 air ambulance bill, and considered taking a part-time job to pay the debt.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this: Many large health plans wrote special rules, waiving co-payments and deductibles for coronavirus hospitalizations. When doctors and hospitals accepted bailout funds, Congress barred them from “balance-billing” patients — the practice of seeking additional payment beyond what the insurer has paid.

But interviews that my colleague Sarah Kliff conducted with more than a dozen patients suggest those efforts have fallen short.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, most health insurers took the line that this is an extraordinary circumstance, and people don’t really understand how to prevent getting sick with coronavirus, so it should be treated differently, and the cost should be totally waived,” Sarah said. “But now, insurance companies are thinking about it differently. They’re saying, ‘we understand coronavirus, vaccination is out there, and this is going to be treated like any other disease.’”

The average cost of a Covid hospitalization is $23,489. But little research has been published on how much of that cost is billed to patients.

Sarah said she was also surprised by how aggressive some hospitals were in trying to collect debts. In some cases, they have gone after the estates of dead patients.

“I’ve been covering health care for a decade and didn’t even realize that was a risk that patients face,” Sarah said.

Some patients, after seeing such bills, are now delaying treatment for symptoms of so-called long Covid because they are worried about the costs.

“That’s one of the risks of having low coverage,” Sarah said. “If patients are missing out on necessary care, then you have fewer symptoms getting sorted out, and less general knowledge of what long Covid looks like.”
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/21/upshot/covid-bills-financial-long-haulers.html

Schools Are Dropping Mask Requirements, But A New CDC Study Suggests They Shouldn't
New research released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reinforces an old message: COVID-19 spreads less in schools where teachers and staff wear masks. Yet the study arrives as states and school districts across the country have begun scaling back or simply dropping their masking requirements for staff and students alike.

With the majority of school-age children still too young to qualify for vaccination, Friday's research is the latest salvo in a simmering fight between public health officials and politicians — with parents lining up on both sides.


... Dr. Aaron Milstone, a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins, likens the banning of mask mandates to having a variable speed limit.

"Unfortunately, with contagious diseases the decisions I make impact someone else," Milstone said. "It would be like saying: You can drive 55 mph if you think that's safe for you, but if someone else thinks they can safely drive 90 mph, their choice may wind up risking your life."

While the CDC recently scaled back its masking guidance for people who are fully vaccinated, the agency also reiterated that schools should continue to require universal masking, at least through the end of the current school year. Though one vaccine has been approved for use for 12- to 15-year-olds, those kids won't be considered fully vaccinated for another month.

Milstone said it's simply too early to talk about schools without masking. "Until vaccines are eligible for all children, it's hard to abandon the practices that we know work the best to prevent the spread of COVID."


Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the White House, told CNBC this week that it is conceivable the CDC could recommend that middle and high schools be mask-free in the fall — if, that is, enough students 12 years of age and older get vaccinated.
Read the full article: https://www.npr.org/2021/05/21/999106426/schools-are-dropping-mask-requirements-but-new-cdc-study-suggests-they-shouldnt

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.

Source: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia