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70% of Thais follow social distancing guidelines, 80% or more needed



PHOTO: Thai Residents

“Social distancing is a very powerful tool to fight against Covid-19 and this weapon needs the engagement of all Thais.”

“Social distancing,” a new phrase for many since the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak began in January, is considered a crucial strategy to help stem the spread of the disease. And according to the latest survey conducted by the Department of Mental Health, around 70% of Thais understand and are following the nations social distancing guidelines. But that’s not enough.

The department’s director-general Kiattiphoom Vongrachit says that the survey was conducted last week among 26,000 respondents. The goal wis to exceed the 80% mark. He says the benchmark is based on research in Australia, which found that 80% of people using active social distancing is the threshold at which Covid-19 transmission can start to drop.

The Ministry of Public Health estimated that if social distancing compliance exceeds 80%, the number of Covid-19 cases nationwide will reach 7,745 by April 15. But cases are likely to climb past 17,000 by that date if social distancing compliance is only 50% they say. With no social distancing, the number of cases could skyrocket to 150,000 in two weeks, according to modelling.

• 71% of respondents say they are avoiding crowds, 24.7% admitted sometimes they need to mingle and the rest admitted they had not changed their behaviour

• 68% of respondents say they always keep a 2 metre distance from others, 26.6% admitted they only do it sometimes, and the rest said they ignore the distancing protocol.

• 82% of respondents say they always wear a protective mask they leave home, 14% said they wore masks occasionally when outside. Only 0.5% said they never wore masks.

• When it comes to washing their hands regularly, more than 90% of respondents said they did so, and also said they use serving spoons when eating with others, and not their own spoons.

• 76% said they are “moderately fearful” of Covid-19 disease, while 18% admitted they are terrified. Another 5.6% said their concern over the global pandemic is “low.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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