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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Cabinet approves Emergency Decree extension, prison funding

Neill Fronde

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The Emergency Decree extension meeting approves prison Covid-19 funding. (via ABC News)

The Emergency Decree enacted to attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Thailand has just been extended for 2 more months, until the end of July. Cabinet ministers met yesterday to determine the future of the decree and agreed to extend it from June 1 to July 31, while also approving funding for fighting Covid-19 in the Thai prison system. A government spokesperson confirmed the extension, citing that the Emergency Decree is necessary to facilitate agency cooperation in fighting Covid-19.

The Emergency Decree empowers various health, policy, and enforcement agencies to coordinate together on anti-Covid-19 measures as well as allocate public health resources, some of which are in short supply. The extension allows the government to continue Covid-19 control and prevention measures, and reduce the risk of death from the virus. It also provides crucial economic support to aid people struggling from financial hardship and stabilize the country.

Aside from extending the Emergency Decree at the meeting, the cabinet also approved aid for Thailand’s ailing prison and correctional facilities, where Covid-19 has run rampant in the last 2 months. The bill established a 311 million baht budget for Covid-19 prevention, which PM Prayut Chan-o-cha approved from the central and expenditure budget. The Department of Corrections is now tasked with creating and implementing a plan for action and spending.

Covid-19 has placed a spotlight on Thailand’s poor prison conditions that are operating at nearly 50% above maximum capacity. The cramped conditions are a breeding ground for airborne diseases as Covid-19 has proved in recent weeks. This budget enacted at the Emergency Decree extension meeting is intended not only to treat the Covid-19 outbreak but to improve conditions to try to prevent further spread.

As such, nearly 50 million baht has been allocated to building and modernizing quarantine rooms in 65 different prison facilities. over 144 million baht is earmarked for building field hospitals for critically ill patients and Covid-19 treatment, with about 52 million baht dedicated to building 2 field hospitals in the Bangkok area and over 92 million budgeted for 10 more field hospitals in various correctional facilities in districts around the country.

37 million baht has been budgeted for materials for fighting to limited future Covid-19 infections including a direct request to the Ministry of Public Health for the antiviral drug favipiravir. And 80 million more baht is planned for Covid-19 detection with the purchase of 100,000 rapid antigen tests and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, commonly known as RT-PCR tests.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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    Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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