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Anutin misspoke again, later apologises, again

Jack Burton

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Anutin misspoke again, later apologises, again | The Thaiger
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“We’re not happy with some health personnel who do not take good care of themselves. They should have set an example for others.”

Thailand’s volatile Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul yesterday criticised medical personnel infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus , drawing furious responses on social media until he apologised, again.

The deputy PM and Bhumjaithai Party leader originally told reporters no health personnel had caught the virus while on duty.

“As far as I know from a report, no doctor has been infected while they were treating Covid-19 patients.”

His ministry reported earlier in the day that at least 11 health personnel were among the new infections.

Angry reactions to his controversial remarks on social media made the “#anutin” a top trending hashtag on Twitter. “Thank you for your advice,” one user tweeted.

The gaffe-prone minister later apologised in an online video clip, saying he was “under pressure” and had “not carefully listened to the question.”

“I have no intention to criticise anybody. I admire all of them.”

One Twitter user wrote after his video appearance: “Too late though. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Anutin has made plenty of headlines in recent weeks with his fiery remarks. Last month, he apologised for televised comments that foreigners should be “kicked out of Thailand” for refusing to wear face masks.

On March 4 he (or someone) shut down his Facebook account after a post that said all visitors from certain countries would face mandatory self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in Thailand. The post had his department’s crest and his signature. A few hours later it was gone but not before being widely shared by others and the Thai media. He later claimed it was not he who posted the message.

Anutin came blazing back on March 12 with the @anutin_c Twitter account, which was also closed later after complained that Western tourists he saw on a trip to Chiang Mai were dirty.

“Many farang dress dirty and don’t shower. As hosts we have to be very careful.”

Anutin appears to have been sidelined since PM Prayut Chan-o-cha declared the state of emergency, effective yesterday. Under the emergency decree, as head of the coronavirus crisis committee, Prayut has full authority to handle the situation, effectively making him acting health minister. While related ministers are on the committee, it is permanent secretaries who have been appointed chiefs of operations, and take orders directly from Prayut.

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.

Thailand

Migrant workers risk losing their legal status, the Cabinet to extend work permit amnesty

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Migrant workers risk losing their legal status, the Cabinet to extend work permit amnesty | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Frontier Myanmar

Over 1.7 million migrant workers in Thailand are going to lose their legal working status because they can’t submit work permit renewal and a health certificate with Covid-19 test results in time. The Labour Ministry then proposes the cabinet will extend the registration period (amnesty) for migrant workers to help maintain their legal status. Migrant workers, including those illegal and unemployed workers, are required to register with authorities via the ministry’s website from January 15 until February 13.

According to the Labour Minister, every migrant worker to renew their work permit must receive a Covid-19 test at hospitals designated by the Public Health Ministry. The Department of Medical Sciences will be responsible for the testing costs.

Illegal and unemployed workers, who registered with the Ministry, will be allowed to stay in the Kingdom for 2 years without penalties. Only those migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar are allowed to overstay their current visas, but are required to register with the provincial employment office in the area they work, as part of the amnesty.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand’s poorer areas may suffer if vaccines funded by local municipalities

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Thailand’s poorer areas may suffer if vaccines funded by local municipalities | The Thaiger

Thailand’s poorer areas may suffer if Covid-19 vaccine distribution is given the green light to be funded by local municipalities. Suspicions are already being raised as critics say many municipalities who offer to fund the vaccines may have alterior political motives. As many as 20 municipalities are reporting that they have already set aside funding.

Ratchaburi Town Municipality, for example, has set aside more than 200 million baht to purchase the Covid-19 vaccines but is waiting for the government’s approval to go ahead with local funding. In Bangkok, which has over 5 million residents, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is on standby to use 10 billion baht towards vaccinating its residents.

While those in charge of “richer” municipalities say they are confident they can afford Covid vaccines for their residents, their eagerness is being met with suspicion as local administrations historically have limited experiences and capabilities in this area. Many municipalities have shown to lack medical or public health specialists required to administer such vaccinations.

Nonthaburi Municipality mayor Somnuek Thanadechakul and other local administrators agree on the idea of inoculating residents using local funds as they say it can help speed up the vaccination process.

“If the government gives the green light, we can complete vaccinations in a month instead of three months.”

Pita Limcharoenrut, leader of the opposition Move Forward Party, disagrees as he says it is the responsibility of the government alone to get quality vaccines for everyone. If local administrations are allowed to buy vaccines, he says poorer ones will be at a disadvantage.

“It’s clear that local administrators are using this opportunity to boost their popularity ahead of the next elections.”

Former transport minister Chadchart Sittipunt, has also suggested that the BMA has enough funds to vaccinate 8 million people living in the capital for free.

“The BMA has enough money to shoulder this responsibility immediately.”

Elections for mayors and municipal council members are set to take place in the first half of this year, while Bangkok’s gubernatorial election is likely to take place in the latter half, in which Chadchart is contesting.

PM Prayut has, indeed, confirmed local administrations can acquire vaccines for their residents using their own funds. But the vaccines they purchase must be approved by the FDA to prevent possible side effects. The spokesman for the BMA, Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, is echoing those concerns as he says they are taking into consideration the safety and quality of the vaccines they receive.

“Talks are ongoing over vaccine imports. We are trying to get the vaccines as soon as possible, but they must be the best and safest.”

Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences, is also worried about quality and safety during inoculation and allocation of the vaccines and proposing a rhetorical question.

“Could there be misuse of vaccines that stray from the original goal and target group?”

PM Prayut has also joined in on the concerns by recently saying he wouldn’t let Thai people be “guinea pigs” and is waiting for see more evidence of the safety and accuracy of the vaccines.

According to the Public Health Ministry, Thailand is set to receive China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine in 3 batches starting next month with the first batch seeing 200,000 doses arrive. 800,000 more doses are expected in March, and 1 million in April.

The government has also ordered 26 million doses from AstraZeneca in an agreement that facilitates a “knowledge transfer” for Siam Bioscience, a Thailand firm, to produce the vaccine locally. 35 million more doses from AstraZeneca are also reportedly planned. The government plans to have half of the population or 33 million people inoculated against coronavirus.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Sumut Sakhon’s Central Prawn Market to reopen at the end of January

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Sumut Sakhon’s Central Prawn Market to reopen at the end of January | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Manager Online

Samut Sakhon Central Shrimp Market, the epicentre of the latest wave of Covid-19, is ready to reopen by the end of January after a big clean up. The reopening is considered “important” to the province’s economy, according to the province’s deputy governor. It will also be a new beginning for the workers, mostly migrant workers, who have been so profoundly affected by the cluster.

The Market has been shut since December 20 after more than 500 cases of Covid-19 were detected, following nearly 7 months of single digit daily infection reports.

The Samut Sakhon deputy governor says all infected persons from the market have been sent to the field hospital for treatment and 14 day quarantine and since been released after tests showed they are free of the virus. He added that 1,200 people living near the market will have to undergo another test although previously testing negative.

“This is to make sure that the market is completely free of the virus.”

The market manager also says that he urges vendors to follow the disease preventive measures strictly when the market opens back up again.

Samut Sakhon has 4,921 accumulative cases… 1,045 are Thais and 3,876 are migrant workers, mostly from Myanmar. Some 331 are currently in hospital. 1,332 are in quarantine. 3,257 have either been cured or have tested negative after quarantine. Only 1 death was reported.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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