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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

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

Jack Burton

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70% of Thais follow social distancing guidelines, 80% or more needed | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Residents
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“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 a writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. He attended the Henry Grady School of Journalism and 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.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Curfew violators made to volunteer at temples

May Taylor

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Curfew violators made to volunteer at temples | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

As Thailand’s already crowded prisons struggle to cope with an influx of a new type of criminal, the “curfew violator”, the Department of Probation has come up with a novel solution – send them to the temples.

Thailand has had a national curfew in place since the establishment of the country’s emergency decree on March 26. Initially it was from 10pm – 4am, then reduced to 11pm – 4am. It is now expected to be reduced further to Midnight – 4am in the next week or so. The emergency decree will continue until the end of June whereby PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and the government-appointed CSSA will continue to call the shots without having to obtain permission from the Thai parliament.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, the Supreme Patriarch, head of the order of Buddhist monks, created soup kitchens at over 900 temples to help feed those who had lost their livelihoods and were struggling to afford food. Now, instead of going to prison, some curfew breakers are being sent there to help out.

Vittawan Sunthornkajit, director-general of the Department of Probation, says curfew violators who have also committed serious offences during curfew hours are still being sent to prison. However, those found guilty of more minor misdemeanours are instead given a warning and then sent to the soup kitchens, where they can help out while being kept under surveillance. Placements range from 7 days to a month, with Vittawan saying the courts have so far sent 2,276 offenders their way.

It’s hoped that being part of the charitable work carried out at temples will instill a sense of conscientiousness (“samnuek di”, in Thai) in lawbreakers and make them aware of the effect their bad behaviour has on society as a whole.

“These wrongdoers will help monks give food to the affected villagers. We want them to see how so many people suffer.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Chiangrai Times

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Politics

Opposition criticises Thai government over economic toll of Covid response

May Taylor

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Opposition criticises Thai government over economic toll of Covid response | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AFP

Opposition party Pheu Thai has condemned the government’s management of the Covid-19 crisis, saying total shutdown has had a devastating effect on the country’s economy. In a report in Nation Thailand, Paopoom Rojanasakul, vice secretary-general of the party says the hard-hitting restrictions imposed across the country have led to high unemployment, with the International Monetary Fund saying Thailand’s economy is the worst-affected in the region.

He adds that the IMF is predicting the economy here will shrink by 6.7%, saying Thailand has one of the world’s most negative GDP forecasts, despite appearing to have brought the virus under control quite quickly.

“The question that arises is, if Thailand has controlled the outbreak quicker than the other others, why is its economy worse hit than the others?”

Paopoom says the decision to essentially shut down the economy in the early stages of the outbreak is what caused the damage, not simply the fact that economic performance is dependent on the global economy as a whole. Pheu Thai says the government must act now to stop businesses from going under and to save jobs, saying the government got it wrong when it allowed employers to terminate their workers’ positions.

The party says employers should receive financial incentives to encourage them to keep their staff employed. Paopoom adds that what’s required is a policy of balanced measures that keep the economy running at the same time as the virus is being brought under control.

“The winner of this battle is a balanced state that can control the outbreak while also sustaining the economy until the world has a vaccine.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Pattaya

Chon Buri, Pattaya pass coronavirus milestones

Jack Burton

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Chon Buri, Pattaya pass coronavirus milestones | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Pattaya City Mayor Sonthaya Khunpluem, without his floral shirts - The Pattaya News

Chon Buri province passed a milestone today: 30 consecutive days without a new confirmed case of Covid-19. The Chonburi Communicable Disease Committee made the announcement this morning. Pattaya, which is part of the province, has reached 40 days. Not a single locally infected patient remains under treatment in the province.

There is a state quarantine centre in the province (Sattahip) for Thai nationals returning from abroad, which still has several people waiting to fulfil their 14 day mandatory quarantine. They arrived from overseas and were sent directly to the hospital and never mingled with the general population. They do not pose a health risk to the public, according to the Chon Buri government.

Chon Buri has had a total of 87 cases since the start of the outbreak, with 2 deaths. The deaths were both foreign nationals who were considered imported cases and had recently travelled from other provinces or countries.

Despite the case numbers, tens of thousands of businesses remain closed in the province, leaving thousands of residents out of work visiting food lines on a daily basis in Pattaya City and other parts of the province. This is due to the government’s “one size fits all” reopening plan for businesses, regardless of the number of active cases of Covid-19 in the area.

Pattaya is famous worldwide for its nightlife and tourist industry and normally attracts millions of visitors a year. The vast majority of its businesses, in the hospitality and entertainment sector, remain shuttered by government order and their staff either trying to survive in the city or already headed back ‘up country’ to their family homes.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has indicated that entertainment venues will likely be allowed to open, but with strict new rules, sometime in June.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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