Philips receives grant to improve quality and accessibility of maternal care in low- and middle-income countries

November 10, 2021

  • USD 15.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation adds to Philips’ R&D investments and will boost obstetrics app development for Philips Handheld Ultrasound – Lumify
  • Project further underscores Philips’ commitment to improve the lives of 2.5 billion people a year by 2030, including 400 million in underserved communities

Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today announced it has received a USD 15.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) based application suite to improve the quality and accessibility of obstetric care in low- and middle-income countries, especially in underserved communities. By helping front-line healthcare workers such as midwives to identify potential problems in pregnancy at an early stage, the project aims to significantly reduce the number of women who die as a result of pregnancy – currently around 830 women every day worldwide [1] – while reducing fetal mortality and morbidity.

The project plans to develop an application suite that will be deployed on Philips Handheld Ultrasound – Lumify – which is currently in widespread use in community-based mother and child care programs around the world. It also builds on the expertise of the Philips Foundation, providing access to quality healthcare for underserved communities worldwide, including a program in Kenya to educate midwives to deliver ultrasound-based antenatal pregnancy screening in village clinics, while receiving telehealth support from radiologists at distance.

“Philips is a pioneer in the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare, with many of its AI-based solutions already FDA approved,” said Joseph Frassica, Head of Philips Research Americas and Chief Medical Officer, Philips North America. “This effort to use AI to help deliver high quality pre-natal care to the vast number of women in the world who cannot easily access it is a perfect example of what we believe AI should be used for – empowering healthcare professionals to help them deliver faster and more efficient care to help improve patient outcomes.”

Enhancing skills of midwives in low and middle-income countries
Handheld diagnostic ultrasound platforms like Philips Lumify offer an affordable solution to assess pregnancy, while providing a portable option to be used in community-based mother and child care programs. However, front-line midwives often lack the required training and ultrasound experience to make a confident diagnosis. AI-enabled applications have the potential to bridge this gap by providing assistance to acquire the right images and then assist with interpretation of those images. The suite of AI-based obstetrics applications will help front-line healthcare workers to identify high-risk pregnancies that can be clinically managed to prevent adverse birth outcomes.

AI-guided assessment of gestational age and fetal development
The World Health Organization recommends at least one ultrasound scan before 24 weeks of gestation for pregnant women to evaluate gestational age with greater confidence than a traditional last menstrual period estimate [2]. A better estimate of gestational age can reduce the number of induced labors and, as a result, help improve the birthing experience for a large number of women. Appropriate targeting of maternal and neonatal care can also help to prevent complications of prematurity. Currently, no ultrasound device is commercially available that assists non-expert users by automating image acquisition or image interpretation for a comprehensive set of obstetrics measurements, limiting access to early fetal ultrasound scans.

“Philips Handheld Ultrasound – Lumify – is a great example of how Philips is bringing diagnostic insights to the point of care to deliver on the ‘quadruple aim’ of healthcare: better health outcomes, an improved experience for patients and staff, and a lower cost of care,” said Matthijs Groot Wassink, General Manager for Access and Obstetric Ultrasound at Philips. “Supported through funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, we now have the opportunity to extend those enhanced patient and staff experiences to pregnant women and midwives throughout the world, while at the same time reducing maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, and making high quality prenatal care much more affordable in low-resource settings.”

Philips and the Philips Foundation have several ongoing programs to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in underserved communities, including a partnership with the United Nations Population Fund and the Government of Republic of the Congo and with Aga Khan University’s​ Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health in East Africa.

Philips is a leader in ultrasound solutions with a large global installed base and a strong track record of industry-first innovations in areas such as 3D imaging of the heart, AI-powered quantification tools, and ultra-mobile portable ultrasound solutions. Its ultrasound portfolio supports the effective and efficient delivery of care across a broad range of clinical specialties including radiology, cardiology, point-of-care and obstetrics/gynecology. Visit Philips Ultrasound Systems portfolio for more information, and join Philips at RSNA 2021 where the company will spotlight its latest portfolio of connected radiology workflow solutions and smart connected imaging systems to increase efficiency and diagnostic confidence in precision care and treatment.

[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/maternal-mortality
[2] WHO | WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience: ultrasound examination

For further information, please contact:

Kathy O’Reilly
Philips Global Press Office
Tel: +1 978-221-8919
Email: kathy.oreilly@philips.com

Silvie Casanova
Philips North America
Tel: +1 781-879-0692
Email: Silvie.casanova@philips.com

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people’s health and well-being, and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum – from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips generated 2020 sales of EUR 17.3 billion and employs approximately 78,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at www.philips.com/newscenter.

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Virgin Pulse Completes Acquisition of Welltok, Expanding Health Engagement Capabilities for Employers, Payers and Health Systems

Welltok’s Data and Predictive Analytics, Activation Engine and Communications Capabilities Supercharge Virgin Pulse’s Ability to Engage Hard-to-Reach Populations, including Medicare Advantage and Managed Medicaid Members

PROVIDENCE, R.I., Nov. 10, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Virgin Pulse, the leading global provider of tech-enabled solutions focused on improving the health and wellbeing of its members, today announced that it has completed its acquisition of Welltok, the award-winning health activation company. Combining Welltok’s activation engine with Virgin Pulse’s daily engagement platform will drive better health outcomes and cost reductions for the companies’ combined 4,100 global employer, health plan and health system clients.

“This acquisition is the culmination of years of work to establish a game-changing approach to improving health and reducing costs for employers, health plans and health systems,” said Chris Michalak, CEO of Virgin Pulse. “Combining our organizations will allow us to optimize the health of millions by keeping them continually engaged and activated, which will ultimately reduce costs for clients, members, consumers, and patients. Integrating Welltok’s personalization and analytics capabilities into Homebase for Health® will deliver exponentially more value for our clients and their respective populations. In the near term, we will be identifying quick wins out the gate for our clients and consumers, scaling existing programs and introducing a superior activation engine.”

Virgin Pulse is widely recognized for delivering digital and live solutions that foster long-term behavior changes by engaging users in cultivating daily habits that improve outcomes across all aspects of their health and wellbeing. Welltok is known for activating people at the individual level by combining social determinants of health data with robust predictive analytics capabilities while leveraging multiple communication channels (text/SMS, email, interactive voice response (IVR) calls, social media, etc.) to maximize reach.

Welltok’s proprietary activation engine is focused on motivating consumers, employees, patients and members to complete targeted actions like participating in a mental health program, refilling a medication, or closing a gap in care. Delivering these capabilities as part of Virgin Pulse’s Homebase for Health® will create a more personalized user experience and expedite outcomes and cost savings for clients and consumers by making it easier to initiate and complete meaningful actions that improve health and wellbeing.

With this acquisition, Virgin Pulse will introduce the industry’s first end-to-end engagement and activation platform that supports clients, members, and consumers across the entire health continuum by:

  • Leveraging the industry’s most comprehensive consumer database for 275 million lives and over 1,000 predictive analytics models that target individuals with up to 90% accuracy, based on risk, receptivity and likelihood to take action via various outreach modalities. This comprehensive database is a powerful tool that can help employers, health plans and health systems generate social determinants of health insights to proactively address and reduce health disparities and close care gaps across diverse populations, including Medicare Advantage and Managed Medicaid members who are at increased risk.
  • Delivering personalized, digital-first health solutions that combine technology, gamification, behavior science, live specialist support and a robust ecosystem into a unified, seamless experience to engage users in improving their health and wellbeing every day.
  • Targeting activation across a broad range of individuals including employees, patients, consumers, and health plan members, including Medicare Advantage and Managed Medicaid populations, to drive tangible health outcomes through multi-channel outreach and motivating them with integrated incentives. This “surround-sound” activation, when amplified through a platform that users interact with on a daily basis, acts as an engagement multiplier and is a key driver of health and wellbeing outcomes.

Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed. Virgin Pulse is backed by Marlin Equity Partners, a global investment firm with over $7.7 billion of capital under management. Evercore and Lazard acted as financial advisors, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal advisor to Virgin Pulse. UBS Securities LLC acted as financial advisor and Shearman & Sterling LLP served as legal advisor to Welltok.

About Virgin Pulse
Virgin Pulse is the leading global provider of health and wellbeing solutions designed to drive outcomes and reduce costs by enabling better decision-making across the full care continuum — from prevention and wellbeing to pre-chronic and chronic disease management to episodic and acute care. Featuring the industry’s only true Homebase for Health®, a personalized ecosystem where Virgin Pulse clients and members can access, navigate and interact with their health, wellbeing and benefits in one, trusted and familiar place, Virgin Pulse’s solutions fuse high-tech, high-touch, predictive analytics, AI and data to unify and simplify health and wellbeing. Today, thousands of organizations and over 14 million users in more than 190 countries are using Virgin Pulse to change their lives – and businesses – for good. For more tips and insights, connect with us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

About Welltok
Welltok drives consumer actions that matter. Only Welltok can predict with up to 90% accuracy people’s needs and their likelihood to take action, and engage them with integrated multi-channel outreach to maximize results. By delivering personalized content and resources, Welltok ensures more individuals take critical actions like scheduling an annual check-up, selecting insurance coverage or refilling medications. As the award-winning consumer activation company, healthcare organizations and others trust Welltok to connect with their populations in meaningful ways.

press@virginpulse.com

OrthoPets Launches Anatomically Shaped Casts to Eliminate Pressure Sores and to Create a New Standard Care for Pets’ Fractures

UPETS TLC Products Illustration

UPETS TLC Products Illustration

WESTMINSTER, Colo., Nov. 10, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today OrthoPets, a subsidiary of material company Dassiet, has launched a safe and effective casting solution for veterinarians. The anatomically shaped splints cover the entire range of casting treatments, from full leg cast to paw or toe injuries. The products are tackling the widely known issues of veterinary casting – over 60% of animals with a cast get additional injuries.

“Sores, pain and stiffness are always on the horizon with casting. But if we take the cast off too early, the leg can be injured again because of lack of proper support. UPETS tackles these problems all at once. I find it easy to apply the pre-shaped casts even for very small or large dogs and make adjustments if needed. I can watch my patients walk off the clinic normally with their cast, knowing they can wear it safely until fully healed. We see significant and immediate improvement in patients compared to the common cast,” says Dassiet Chief Veterinarian Jouni Niemi, who oversees the clinical research of UPETS.

The UPETS TLC products are made from FDA and CE approved Woodcast material used in human casting and splinting. Bandages, padding and tape are replaced with a soft, self-cohesive Unitex fabric that passes moisture and dries fast. TLC products are engineered for easy destabilization by removing parts of the splint, and the same product can be used throughout the whole treatment. The breathable, lightweight materials combined with the anatomical fit help prevent sores and restore normal position and movement of the limb.

OrthoPets founder Martin Kaufmann, who has worked with Veterinary Orthotics and Prosthetics for over 20 years, is behind the anatomical design of the UPETS TLC products. He comments: “The common cast is very problematic, but we’ve lacked better alternatives. Now, with the Dassiet supermaterials and OrthoPets’ vast experience in veterinary biomechanics, we have re-engineered the common cast. UPETS TLC is anatomical and safe. It’s stress-free for both the vet and the pet. It brings veterinary casting to the modern day and offers a better standard care option for all vets and orthopedic surgeons out there.”

For more information about the UPETS Total Limb Cast products, please visit: www.upets.vet/TLC

More images available at www.upets.vet/press-kit

Watch product videos at www.upets.vet/videos

PRESS CONTACT

Dassiet
Jimmy Takki, CEO
jimmy.takki@dassiet.com
+358 50 575 7337

OrthoPets by Dassiet
Martin Kaufmann, Founder
martin@orthopets.com
+1 303 667 5399

ABOUT ORTHOPETS
Founded in 2002, OrthoPets is the industry leader in Veterinary Orthotics and Prosthetics (VOP). The Colorado-based OrthoPets team has treated over 30,000 pets from 35 different countries since its founding. OrthoPets is a subsidiary of the material company Dassiet.

https://orthopets.com/

ABOUT DASSIET
Dassiet is a material innovation company founded in 2008 with the focus on developing functional and sustainable supermaterials across industries, from medical to sports and beyond. Dassiet is best known for their biodegradable and heat-moldable material Woodcast, which has been in clinical use around the world since 2010.

https://www.dassiet.com/


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Image 1: UPETS TLC Products Illustration

UPETS TLC Product line from full leg support (Pelvic and Thoracic kits) to lighter splints (Carpus, Tarsus and Paw).

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Plug Power Announces 2021 Third Quarter Results

LATHAM, N.Y., Nov. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ:PLUG), a leading provider of turnkey hydrogen solutions for the global green hydrogen economy, has announced today its 2021 third quarter results. The quarterly shareholder letter has been posted at https://www.ir.plugpower.com/Q321Plug.

A conference call will be held today, November 9, 2021.

Both the shareholder letter and webcast can be accessed at www.plugpower.com, on the company’s home and investor relations pages. A playback of the call will be available online for a period following the event.

About Plug Power Inc.

Plug Power is building the hydrogen economy as the leading provider of comprehensive hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) turnkey solutions. The Company’s innovative technology powers electric motors with hydrogen fuel cells amid an ongoing paradigm shift in the power, energy, and transportation industries to address climate change and energy security, while providing efficiency gains and meeting sustainability goals.

Plug Power created the first commercially viable market for hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) technology. As a result, the Company has deployed over 50,000 fuel cell systems for e-mobility, more than anyone else in the world, and has become the largest buyer of liquid hydrogen, having built and operated a hydrogen highway across North America. Plug Power delivers a significant value proposition to end-customers, including meaningful environmental benefits, efficiency gains, fast fueling, and lower operational costs.

Plug Power’s vertically integrated GenKey solution ties together all critical elements to power, fuel, and provide service to customers such as Amazon, BMW, The Southern Company, Carrefour, and Walmart. The Company is now leveraging its know-how, modular product architecture and foundational customers to rapidly expand into other key markets including zero-emission on-road vehicles, robotics, and data centers.

SOURCE: PLUG POWER

Plug Power Media Contact
Caitlin Coffee
Allison+Partners
(312) 635-8204
PlugPR@allisonpr.com

Digital revolution will innovate the entire hotel industry

Digital Revolution in the hotel industry

Digital Revolution in the hotel industry in the upcoming years will change the entire industry

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Barrows, the provider of hotel investment and advisory services for hotels in the Middle East and Africa, is preparing for a new digital revolution in making the hotel industry smarter.

Anyone who thinks we are already there with digitization in the hospitality industry could not be further from wrong. Service and Hospitality will innovate enormously in the years to come through numerous sleek technological applications and making buildings intelligent.

By providing the hotel buildings with intelligent applications aimed at high-quality guest service during the construction phase, the use of smart technology in the workplace becomes a natural result.

This concerns, for example, digital check-in and check-out and accelerated streamlining of payment processes while the hotel guest is inconvenienced as little as possible or would have to wait a long time.

Fully automating the daily room check can save a lot of time and money, while the hotel room is always fully equipped with a full minibar, clean linen and a fully disinfected bathroom and toilet. All of these things can be fully automated and reduce costs for management, says Chairman Erwin Jager of Barrows Hotel Enterprises.

“Logically, where people work, mistakes are been made. With the use of automation and smart technology, this is prevented while customer satisfaction increases. It is true that human hands are needed to change the beds, but the supply and control can be fully automated in such a way that every hotel room receives the right attention day in, day out. Why still work with customer-unfriendly water boilers, while there are already wonderful solutions for this that benefit customer-friendliness. I never understand the way some hotel operators are running their hotel. Always look true the eyes of the guest and create the best possible experience while staying in your hotel,” says Erwin Jager of Barrows.

With the use of new smart next gen technology, hotel management is much better able to optimize the attention for the customer. Consider, for example, the integration of sustainable eco green energy technology that always allows the building to be air-conditioned in the most sustainable way, and doors that can be opened with a smartphone, instead of the annoying cards that are very customer-unfriendly and unhygienic.

The coming decades will be very interesting for the hotel industry. High End next Gen applications will be developed in particular from the Tech industry to serve building and management in such a way that the hotel guest will automatically gets all the attention and therefore get the ultimate experience when staying in a hotel.

Hotel guests should not experience any form of nuisance and that is exactly what we stand for at Barrows. We do not settle for less, but add value and optimize the daily business process in the hotel chain.

Hospitality means serving people. That is a conscious choice for people who work in the hospitality industry, every day again. We are serving and we are proud of and good at it.

Barrows Hotel Enterprises internationally manages over 10,000 hotel rooms in more than 10 countries. The company started in 2008 as a real estate investor in the residential market in Dubai. Since 2012, Barrows has changed its strategy and the company is fully focused on the fast-growing hotel industry in the Middle East. Since 2020 Barrows is active in the African Continent.

For more information:
media@barrowshotels.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/95998c79-c2c1-45e9-920f-f2b5a3622913

Sannam S4 Names Haike Manning as Executive Director, Southeast Asia, Acquiring LightPath Consulting’s International Education Services Business In Further Southeast Asia Expansion

Appointment of former New Zealand ambassador and establishment of a Vietnam HQ furthering the expansion strategy and growing regional expertise to the international education leader’s global footprint

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam, Nov. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sannam S4, a leading international education services provider, today announced the appointment of the former New Zealand Ambassador Mr. Haike Manning as Executive Director, South East Asia and through the acquisition of the education business of LightPath Consulting Group, acquires a presence in Vietnam.

Manning’s appointment and the acquisition of LightPath Consulting Group’s education practice brings Sannam S4 an established local presence in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam which immediately delivers a range of international education support services to globally ambitious education partners. Manning, in his newly-created role, will bring years of experience in diplomacy and trade negotiations to the job and will lead Sannam S4’s expansion in the high-potential, fast-growing Southeast Asia region. Manning has been based in Vietnam since 2012.

“Over the last few years, Vietnam has become the hot-ticket in the region for education opportunities from K12 through EdTech and Higher Education, given its strong demographic and economic trends. We’ve seen an exponential rise in the number of enquiries for market entry, strategy or operational support in the country, so I am delighted we will now have a strong offering on the ground under Haike’s leadership. The new Ho Chi Minh City operation complements our South East Asia office in Kuala Lumpur perfectly, offering the ideal combination of a well-connected hub city to serve the wider region, with deep on the ground expertise in the most exciting individual market.” – Michael Bartlett, Sannam S4 Managing Director of Education

“I am tremendously excited to be joining Sannam S4, especially during its current period of rapid and ambitious global expansion,” said Manning. “Their unrivaled expertise in key markets have set an industry standard, as does the energy and dynamism of the company.”

Manning trained as a lawyer before joining the Foreign Service. Previous offshore assignments included New Delhi as Deputy Chief of Mission for New Zealand, Acting Consul General in Shanghai, and Deputy Chief of Mission in Brazil.

Manning was also a senior trade negotiator for New Zealand at the World Trade Organization and in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. After four years working in that capacity, he was awarded an ambassadorship to Vietnam, a country Manning specifically selected due to its economic potential.

“I could see Vietnam’s compelling growth story,” Manning said, “and the opportunity to really shape New Zealand’s engagement with an emerging Vietnam.”

During his four years as ambassador Manning saw potential for strong educational ties between the two countries. At that time, Vietnamese students were opting to study in the US or Australia, so Manning dedicated time messaging and publicising New Zealand’s academic offer. Vietnamese student numbers to New Zealand grew strongly in the following years.

In an acknowledgement of his efforts to promote education linkages, Manning was awarded the Official Medal for the Cause of Education by the Vietnamese government.

Manning established LightPath in 2017, inspired by a vision of building a bridge between Vietnam and international education opportunities.

“Human resource development – education – is a critical part of the puzzle for Vietnam in terms of its future development. There’s an amazing opportunity here to support Vietnam in its growth story through international education, and I’m honored to play a part in this story,” said Manning.

Sannam S4 is the preferred global partner for strategic and sustainable expansion in international higher education. By providing local expertise, a global perspective and data analysis, we help partners confidently explore, enter and expand into dynamic, high-growth markets.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Stacey Lane- Head of Communications
Stacey.Lane@sannams4.com

Giftchill Launches Crypto Gift Cards Website to Deliver a Cutting-Edge Customer Experience

Located in the UK, GiftChill recently revamped its website. As an international leader in the gift card industry, GiftChill offers a unique one-stop-shop experience for customers seeking to purchase gift cards online. Customers can now use the GiftChill website to browse hundreds of featured gift cards, check product reviews, and order gift cards online.

Buy Gift Cards with Bitcoin and Altcoins

Buy Gift Cards with Bitcoin and Altcoins

SINGAPORE, Nov. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Located in the UK, GiftChill recently revamped its website. As an international leader in the gift card industry, GiftChill offers a unique one-stop-shop experience for customers seeking to purchase gift cards online. Customers can now use the GiftChill website to browse hundreds of featured gift cards, check product reviews, and order gift cards online.

The GiftChill website offers a simple, secure online registration process that takes most people less than 60 seconds to complete. Once the registration process is complete, account holders can place orders for gift cards with just a few clicks.

Upon completion of their online purchase, customers can expect to receive their gift card code instantly. Each gift card code is delivered to the email address the customer provided during registration. Codes are accompanied by instructions that include helpful tips about using the gift card online or in stores.

GiftChill’s updated site also plays a key role in helping customers save money when purchasing gift cards. Because GiftChill does not have to integrate with credit card companies or Paypal, GiftChill is able to minimize overhead costs. The savings are passed along to customers who are able to buy gift cards at a lower price. The new website may soon feature daily specials to enable GiftChill customers to maximize their ROI.

Customer privacy is a top priority for the GiftChill team. In contrast to other websites that require buyers to provide a large amount of detailed personal information, GiftChill’s registration process requires customers to provide the bare minimum amount of information that is required by law. Account holders can therefore complete transactions with peace of mind knowing that every effort has been made to protect their privacy.

GiftChill takes their commitment to privacy a step further by enabling customers to buy gift cards through their website using six popular cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and USDC. This means buyers are never required to enter their credit card information when making a purchase. Additional payment options are also under consideration as the GiftChill team strives to combat any unnecessary credit card use on their website.

Providing buyers with a hassle-free purchasing experience is a primary goal for GiftChill. By keeping the registration process simple and offering attractive payment modalities, customers can enjoy a fast, seamless buying experience. At the same time, customers never have to settle for an uninspiring gift card purchase. The GiftChill site features over 200 gift card options that change every day.

To learn more about their discounted gift cards, you can contact them on Support@giftchill.co.uk. Their dedicated team of professionals is committed to providing customers with a wide variety of affordable gift card options.

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using bitcoin to pay for egift cards

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Thailand Pass or Certificate of Entry: Clearing confusion for travelers

When Thailand opened its doors to vaccinated travelers from 63 nations this month, it also launched a new system for them to gain entry.

From November 1, tourists flying into Thailand are required to carry a Thailand Pass instead of a Certificate of Entry (COE). And as of November 4, more than 65,000 people had applied for the pass and 12,607 had been approved.

What is Thailand Pass?

This document is required for both Thai nationals and foreigners who are flying into Thailand, regardless of the scheme they are traveling under. At present, people can land in the country under three schemes – Test & Go (Quarantine-Free Entry), Sandbox (Relaxed Quarantine Rules for the fully vaccinated), or the Alternative Quarantine System.

The Thailand Pass only applies to people arriving by air. Those entering via land or sea need to present a COE.

Confusion for COE holders

News about Thailand Pass replacing the COE was circulated widely before its official launch, much to the confusion of many planning trips to Thailand. Some tourists were so confused that they aired their frustration on web boards, asking what it is they really need – a Thailand Pass or a COE.

“I am planning a trip to Thailand on November 4 but have some confusion regarding visas/COE/Thailand Pass,” wrote one foreigner, who had applied for a COE in late October but did not receive one. “Should I be applying for a Thailand Pass instead?”

What the Foreign Ministry says

Those who have already applied for and received a COE can still use it to enter Thailand, according to the Foreign Ministry. However, if their application for a COE has not yet been approved, they must seek a Thailand Pass instead.

COE applicants at the pre-approval stage must submit the remaining documents by November 7 to get an approved COE that can be used in place of Thailand Pass.

How to get Thailand Pass

To get a Thailand Pass, visit http://tp.consular.go.th and follow the instructions provided. Beware of phishing websites like www.thailandpass.org. It looks credible but is in no way connected to the government. Cyber-thieves are reportedly using these websites to steal information from Thailand Pass applicants.

Those registering for a Thailand Pass are required to provide several documents, though the types required depend on the entry scheme they have opted for.

Required documents

So far, people from 63 territories – including China, Hong Kong, Germany, Myanmar, Singapore, the UK and the US – can enter Thailand without undergoing 14-day quarantine. This is provided they have had their second shot of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before flying and tested negative using the RT-PCR method no more than 72 hours before boarding the flight. This scheme is called Test & Go.

Those arriving under Test & Go are required to submit a copy of their passport, vaccination certificate, minimum insurance coverage of US$50,000, proof of hotel reservation for the first night, and Thai visa if applicable.

Documents required for travelers under the Sandbox Program are largely the same. This scheme offers relaxed quarantine rules for those visiting Thailand’s 17 “blue zone” areas, including Bangkok, Krabi, Pattaya, Phuket and Phang Nga. The only difference is that they need to show a hotel reservation for at least seven days.

Those who haven’t been vaccinated can arrive under the Alternative Quarantine scheme, provided they have booked at least 10 days in an alternative quarantine hotel.

What about passengers in transit?

Air passengers who need to change flights in Thailand are not required to hold a Thailand Pass. However, they are required to produce a negative RT-PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours ago and insurance coverage of at least $50,000.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Myanmar charges US journalist with terrorism, sedition

Myanmar’s junta has charged a US journalist detained since May with sedition and terrorism, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, his lawyer said Wednesday.

The military has squeezed the press since taking power in a February coup, arresting dozens of journalists critical of its crackdown on dissent that has killed over 1,200 people, according to a local monitoring group.

Danny Fenster, who had been working for local outlet Frontier Myanmar for around a year, was arrested as he was heading home to see his family in May and has been held in Yangon’s Insein prison since.

The 37-year-old is already on trial for allegedly encouraging dissent against the military, unlawful association and breaching immigration law.

The additional charges under Myanmar’s anti-terror and sedition laws open Fenster up to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The trial is scheduled to begin on November 16.

“He has become quite thin,” Than Zaw Aung said.

Fenster was “disappointed” at being hit with the new charges, which were filed on Tuesday, the lawyer added.

They come days after former US diplomat and hostage negotiator Bill Richardson met junta chief Min Aung Hlaing in the capital Naypyidaw, handing the increasingly isolated junta some rare publicity.

Richardson has previously negotiated the release of prisoners and US servicemen in North Korea, Cuba, Iraq and Sudan and has recently sought to free US-affiliated inmates in Venezuela.

The former UN ambassador said he was hopeful he had brokered a deal for a resumption of visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross to prisons — which have been filled with political prisoners.

Richardson, declining to give further details, said the US State Department asked him not to raise Fenster’s case during his visit.

“Danny’s case has become emblematic of the utter contempt Myanmar’s military has for independent media,” Emerlynne Gil, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for research, said in a statement.

“These harsh new charges only further highlight the clumsy attempt to prosecute an independent journalist who should be freed immediately and unconditionally so he can be reunited with his family and friends.”

– Press clampdown –

Fenster is believed to have contracted Covid-19 during his detention, family members said during a conference call with American journalists in August.

He last spoke with US consular officials by phone on October 31, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday, adding Washington remained “deeply concerned over his continued detention”.

The Southeast Asian country has been mired in chaos since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, with the junta trying to crush widespread democracy protests and stamp out dissent.

The military has tightened control over the flow of information, throttling internet access and revoking the licences of local media outlets.

Several journalists critical of the military government were among those released last month in a junta amnesty to mark a Buddhist festival.

More than 100 journalists have been arrested since the putsch, according to Reporting ASEAN, a monitoring group.

It says 31 are still in detention.

The coup snuffed out the country’s short-lived experiment with democracy, with civilian leader Suu Kyi now facing a raft of charges in a junta court that could see her jailed for decades.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Govt vs hospital: Who is right in the row over Poland’s failed vaccine donation?

In what seems like a case of “different sides of the same coin”, Thailand’s Foreign Ministry and Thammasat University Hospital have sparred over the collapsed deal for 1.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine offered for free by Poland.

What happened?

Thammasat University Hospital spent three months preparing the deal in collaboration with Thonburi Healthcare Group (THG), one of many private firms with which it has signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs). In late August, Thammasat was given the power to assign a representative to procure or import COVID-19 vaccines.

The MoUs allowed private firms to acquire vaccines under the university’s auspices, provided they cover related expenses like transportation and insurance and give the university a portion of the doses imported. Thammasat University Hospital’s aim was to use its share of the donated doses to provide free COVID-19 jabs to people at risk.

The university said it required just one letter from the Foreign Ministry to get the 1.5-million doses from Poland, but the deal collapsed because the ministry refused to issue this letter.

Response from the ministry

After Thammasat’s side of the argument appeared on Facebook, the Foreign Ministry was quick to respond. It immediately released a statement in defense of its actions.

The ministry said it had been informed that only one-third of the 1.5 million doses would go to Thammasat while the rest would go to a private firm covering expenses such as transportation and quality checks. And while the university had pledged to distribute this vaccine for free, the company was going to charge people for jabs.

The Foreign Ministry said it had been informed by its Polish counterpart that the donated vaccine doses could not be sold. There was also an issue of market authorization.

The ministry concluded it could not issue the letter accepting the donation, since the deal could end up hurting Thailand’s credibility as well as bilateral ties with Poland.

The ministry insisted it had no intention of blocking the university and its partners’ efforts to procure vaccine donations from Poland or any other country.

The row continues

Thammasat University Hospital, however, hit back saying that if the Foreign Ministry had voiced such concerns from the start, it would have tried to find a way of saving the deal for the sake of the public.

The hospital said it was in the process of contacting Moderna and believed the letter from the ministry would help smoothen the donation process.

As for the planned sale of one million doses of the donated vaccine, the hospital explained that the cost of dispatching experts to check the vaccine’s quality, status, manufacturing batch, dossier preparations, logistics, insurance, customs and storage of the 1.5 million doses would have come to millions of baht. Its private partner, which was shouldering all these expenses, was only going to charge about Bt400 per dose — far less than the Bt1,100 per dose charged for the Moderna vaccine procured by the government.

However, Seksakon Atthawong, vice-minister for the Prime Minister’s Office said that Thammasat University Hospital should have studied the details of the process properly before going ahead with the deal.

“The Foreign Ministry has tried to help, but rules must be respected. Even though the deal has collapsed, there should be no blame game,” he said.

What’s next?

Thammasat University Hospital says it will give up its dream of providing free vaccines in Thailand for now, because it has learned that it is not possible to seek donations. However, it said, it will continue offering jabs to those who are willing to pay.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service