Bye bye Bangkok, 1000s of workers head home

PHOTO: 80,000 flocked to Mo Chit bus terminal yesterday to head out of Bangkok - Facebook/PinoyThaiyo

The Thai PM was asked over the weekend if there would be additional measures to tackle the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. He replied “We’re working on it.”

Bangkok’s lockdown-you-have-when-you’re-not-having-a-lockdown, is pushing 1,000s of casual and migrant workers out of the city ‘up country’ as Bangkok shutters many of its businesses. Many are heading home to Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos in a rush before the borders are closed.

188 new Covid-19 cases were announced yesterday taking Thailand’s toll to 599.

With so many businesses now closed around Bangkok, and the immediate five neighbouring provinces, workers are being laid off and heading home. After all, it’s only a few weeks until Songkran!

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But the many closures announced over the weekend in Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani, present a new problem for Thai officials and new opportunities for the Covid-19 virus.

An estimated 80,000 people boarded cramped buses on Sunday with major traffic jams around the Mo Chit bus terminal. Migrant workers were rushing to national borders to neighbouring countries before the Thai borders close them completely.

The Interior Ministry meanwhile alerted provincial governors to “keep an eye on people from Bangkok heading for their provinces amid fears they would further spread the disease”. They asked transport agencies to implement social distancing measures as people are expected to travel home. They asked transport companies to “screen passengers before boarding, to practise social distancing while away, and to clean and disinfect vehicles before and after the trips”.

Too late. They’re already in border provinces to Bangkok’s west, north and east creating more crowds at border checkpoints.

Transport officials were also being instructed to obtain contact information from passengers too. Whether any of this has actually happened during the weekend exodus is anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile, the Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam spoke on Saturday explaining that the government had considered “several measures to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus”.

He said the Bangkok ‘lockdown’ was highly sensitive and would adversely impact people and businesses.

“The government has thought about it and we’re waiting for a signal from medical authorities. The prime minister is listening to opinions of medical and public health experts. Still, the government will have to consider people’s safety as well as their convenience.”

At the daily news briefing yesterday, authorities confirmed that there were two groups identified.

Of the first group of 65 new cases, 21 of them were linked to the ‘Boxing cluster’ scattered around Bangkok, Loei, Nong Bua Lamphu, Udon Thani, Chon Buri, Phatthalung, Phra and Samut Prakan provinces. Another 5 cases were related to entertainment venues. 2 were linked to religious activity in northern Malaysia, and 37 who were close contacts of the other patients.

The second group lists 15 new Covd-19 patients. 6 Thai returning from overseas, 2 foreign students and 7 workers who had been selling lottery tickets or food at boxing stadiums.
The remaining cases were being investigated.

PinoyThaiyoBye bye Bangkok, 1000s of workers head home | News by Thaiger

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