Another 139 new cases of a flu-like disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus in China has shocked health officials. There’s also been a third confirmed death reported today. Worse, the outbreak has now spread beyond Wuhan in central China where the virus was first identified. There have been cases reported in Beijing, a province next door to Shanghai and Shenzhen in southern China.

Health authorities in Beijing have now confirmed two cases of the new coronavirus today, while Guangdong authorities in southern China reported one new case in Shenzhen as well. The Shenzhen case is the first confirmation that the virus has spread domestically beyond Wuhan.

The Wuhan Health Commission announced today that 136 new patients had been diagnosed over the weekend – 1 person died from the virus, 2 remain in critical condition, 33 are in serious condition. All three patients that have died are believed to have visited Wuhan in the last month or so.

The new cases have brought the total number of people diagnosed with the virus in China to 201. That’s a big jump over numbers reported over the weekend.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, say they are monitoring eight patient. All eight have been quarantined for treatment. In coastal Zhejiang province, bordering Shanghai, authorities have now reported five new suspected cases who have been confirmed to have visited Wuhan. Last week, three cases were detected outside China — two in Thailand and one in Japan. All cases have been linked to Wuhan. On Monday, South Korea also confirmed its first case of the virus.

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market at the centre of the pneumonia outbreak in he city of tWuhan has been closed for disinfection since January 1.

Meanwhile, Thai officials are stepping up screening efforts with many flights flying in from Wuhan over the next few weeks for the Chinese New Year holidays. Health officials say they’re confident that their screening efforts will detect any infected passengers getting off flights at Thai airports.

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The Thai baht will continue to maintain its strength for the rest of 2020. It will remain strong, propelled by the increased surpluses in the Thai current account and the country’s trade balance.

Kobsidthi Silpachai, KBank’s head of capital markets research, predicts that the Thai baht will float around 29.75 against the US dollar for the first half of 2020, and then appreciate to 29.25 at the end of the year, said

Reuters report that the Thai baht was Asia’s star-performance currency during 2019, rising by more than 7% against the greenback.

The baht continued to leverage off the country’s massive current account surplus over 2019, rising inflows of tourism revenue and the near-record foreign reserves – all this despite subdued local economic growth. The foreign reserves made the Thai baht the go-to currency for investors with with its ‘safe haven’ reputation for actual investment or speculation.

Thailand’s current account surplus totalled $33.2 billion as of last November, accounting for 5.3% of GDP, according to the Bangkok Post. The country’s trade surplus with the US was $19 billion for last year. Thailand’s GDP growth is forecast to be around 2.7% this year.

An adjustment to ease loan-to-value (LTV) regulations is not forecast to massively rev up sagging property sales as the purchasing power of Thais is being tempered by elevated household debt – some 79% of GDP.

The Bank of Thailand eased the tightened LTV rules governing mortgage lending which shortens the minimum debt-servicing period for first mortgages required for those seeking a second loan for homes priced below 10 million baht.

Electic cars (EVs) are on the rise in Thailand. The Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT) reports a sharp increase in the number of electric vehicles registered in 2019. Department of Land Transport statistics show that, as of December 31, there were 2,854 electric vehicle registrations, including 1,572 new cars, up 380% from 2018 when only there were only 325 registered.

Hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles reached a total of 153,184 vehicles. (Hybrids are electric vehicles with a back-up conventional petrol engine, and switches between the two power trains)

“The increase in electric vehicle registration will have an effect shortly as the need for charging stations will increase as well. Therefore, this year may see full model commercial charging stations, with the private sector playing an increasingly important role.”

EVAT promotes and supports the exchange of information about technology and innovation for all types of electric vehicles for the development of EV technology in Thailand. There are more than 200 members from the private sector, educational institutions, state enterprises and individuals.

The director (headmaster) of a Sing Buri school is now in police custody as a suspect in the case of the lone of being the lone gunman in a gold shop robbery at the Robinson’s Shopping Centre in Lop Buri province on January 9. Three people, including a two year old boy, were shot and killed, another four were injured as a result of the shooting.

The armed gunman, carrying a 9mm pistol and fitted with a silencer, escaped after his shooting rampage, with gold jewellery valued at 450,000 baht worth of (some media report higher amounts up to 680,000 baht).

The 38 year old suspect has been identified as Prasitthichai Khaokaew, and is currently in custody. Police allege the man has confessed to the crime.

Amnart Wicchayanuwat, secretary-general of the Office of Basic Education Commission, says they will set up a committee to consider dismissal of the school director if he is found guilty of the offences, as charged.

Al Profiles Extrusion

In the days after robbery, the Royal Thai Police issued a shoot-to-kill order and a bounty was offered for information leading to his apprehension. Over the weekend police reported that had been speaking to a suspect over the incident. It has not been confirmed if Prasitthichai Khaokaew was the man who police were questioning over the weekend.

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