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Computer says no. Finance ministry refuses two-thirds of stimulus applicants.

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Computer says no. Finance ministry refuses two-thirds of stimulus applicants. | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nutthawat Wicheanbut
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Only 9 million Thais have been considered eligible in the latest package rolled out by the Finance Ministry. About 27 million registered for the emergency aid program to provide 5,000 baht per month for at least three month. Now the two-thirds who were initially refused the package after initial computer screening are asking why and fronting up to the Finance Ministry offices for answers.

The screening process is ongoing but, as of yesterday, 27 million people have registered, 4.78 million have been formally disqualified and the ministry claims 2.4 million have already been sent the money. The ministry says it hopes to finish screening of the original applicants by the end of this week.

Eligible applicants were identified as Thais aged 18+ more who aren’t covered by the national Social Security Fund and been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.

Another group of applicants facing problems are people who initially qualified but have not received the money.

People turned up yesterday demanding to speak to the Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana after their applications for the 5,000-baht financial aid were turned down.

Some of the people who have been turned down includes Thailand’s estimated 300,000 sex workers who don’t fit into any the government’s convenient criteria and lack paper work or formal employers. Many of the former sex workers in Thailand’s red light zones in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket have been forced to head back to their provinces, many others say they are destitute with no customers and no income. The ones who stayed in and around the bars they used to work say the bars are now shuttered and they’ve been kicked out.

The ministry says it was using artificial intelligence to screen people applying for the monthly handout (in fact it’s not artificial intelligence, it’s just computer software that applies a one-size-fits-all criteria to screen applications).

The ministry’s permanent-secretary Prasong Poontanate drew the short straw and was sent out to address the concerns of the mob that turned up to answer questions on the steps of the Ministry offices.

“Those who received a text message saying they were not qualified can appeal.”

“Those whose registrations were turned down can appeal on the website next week. There’s no need to come to the ministry.”

“They must be employees or workers who were laid off or faced pay cuts, temporary workers, or self-employed people.”

“We used AI to match the registration data with existing government databases. For instance, when the system finds a person is in the Agriculture Ministry’s farmers database, his application is rejected.”

“Such problems will be sorted out when they appeal. The process could be done only at the website.”

“Those who cannot contact the call centres of Krungthai Bank and the Fiscal Policy Office can send their questions at the website.”

The Thai finance ministry opened registrations for the aid on March 28 without setting deadline. The onslaught of web traffic to the site caused delays and problems for the following day. Originally the minister estimated 3 million people would qualify. But 27 million applicants was nine times the estimate. The ministry followed up by warning about legal consequences if people applied with false information about their circumstances. About 700,000 caComputer says noncelled their registrations following the warning.

Many people who were turned down have complained they were rejected because the system thinks they are farmers, which they insist they aren’t. Krungthai Bank explained farmers are not eligible for the aid because a separate package is in the pipeline to help the group.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Computer says no. Finance ministry refuses two-thirds of stimulus applicants. | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: “Appeal can be filed only at the website after all existing applicants have been screened, from April 19 or April 22 at the latest” – Nutthawat Wicheanbut, Bangkok Post

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Thailand

CCSA Update: 309 new Covid-19 infections in Thailand

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CCSA Update: 309 new Covid-19 infections in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Post Today

The CCSA’s daily briefing today started with an update about a NBT news presenter who has attended the daily briefings at the CCSA studio and testing positive for Covid-19. The CCSA spokesman then announced that all people working in the CCSA studio, including himself, are defined as a “low risk” group for infections.

The CCSA spokesman says he, together with all those involved with any risk, will take a swab test this afternoon and will report the test results to the public later on. The infected NBT newscaster has been sent to the hospital already.

Today, 309 new Covid-19 cases were announced from the last 24 hours. The majority of the infections were detected from active case testing, accounting for 217 cases. Most of them were migrant workers. 80 were local transmission, while 12 cases were detected in state quarantine.

According to the CCSA spokesman, key measures to be rolled out next week will be the acceleration on proactive testing in Samut Sakhon and the outer western areas of Bangkok where the infection rate is still high. Numbers and reports from the active findings are expected to be complete by the end of next week will serve as key factors for a review of the current restrictions in place.

CCSA Update: 309 new Covid-19 infections in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: CCSA Daily Briefing

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Bangkok

Smog across Bangkok can be blamed on a ‘Dust Dome’ of pollutants

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Smog across Bangkok can be blamed on a ‘Dust Dome’ of pollutants | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath Online

Poor air quality across Bangkok in the past week are not just caused by the PM2.5 dust. We can blame a ‘dust dome’ that is formed with low atmospheric pressure, dust and pollutants from the farmland waste burning, and greenhouse gases.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa says that the pollutants come from “the improper disposal” of farming waste around Bangkok’s northern outskirts. He also asked provincial governors to ask farmers to avoid burring farm waste. If they refuse to cooperate, there might be an order to ban all outdoor burning activities in the future, while suggesting that farmers should sell their agricultural waste instead of burning it.

The mentioning of the agricultural sector being major contributors to Bangkok’s smog problems is a rare official recognition of the pollution ‘elephant in the room’.

People in Bangkok are also being encouraged to avoid outdoor activities and wear their masks when going outside to prevent both the pollutants and Covid-19. While “unhealthy level” of PM2.5 has been reported in many areas over the past week, the Department of Pollution Control is considering both short-term and long-term measures to tackle the air pollution problems.

Measures that have been rolled out include an extension of the work-from-home policy, lowering the price of low sulphur fuel in the capital and its vicinity, extensive monitoring of waste burning on farms, as well as offering higher prices for sugarcane products which were made in a sustainable manner.

For a long-term plan, the department is considering setting a new standard of air quality by lowering the “safe” threshold for PM2.5 exposure below the current level, but this is likely to happen in the next 5 years. Also, the government aims to apply the Euro-5 standard for vehicle emissions by 2024.

He also says that the pollution situation in Thailand has seen improvement after the measures were implemented. And, the number of days where [air quality] exceeded safe standards was less than 20% of the year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Famous Thai actor tests positive for Covid-19

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Famous Thai actor tests positive for Covid-19 | The Thaiger

A famous Thai actor has announced he is infected with Covid-19after posting a video on Instagram. He says both him and his mother were tested, but he was the only one with a positive test result.

Techin Ployphet, aka DJ Matoom, says he met an infected but asymptomatic friend on January 9, but that friend didn’t know he was infected until January 19 in which he told Matoom.

Matoom detailed his timeline in the Instagram video which reveals that on January 7, he was at his condominium in the Ladprao area, but then visited Power-Buy at the Central Ladprao shopping centre at around 8pm.

The following day, he went to GMM Grammy in the morning to work and then visited the Banyan Tree Hotel at around 4pm. Then, he went to the Big C supermarket in the Ladprao area at 6pm.

On January 9, he says he checked in to a hotel at 9am and had dinner at a rooftop restaurant in the evening. It was there that he met his then-asymptomatic friend. The next evening he left the hotel and had dinner at a Korean restaurant in the Ari area before going back to his condo.

On January 19, he was again working at GMM Grammy in the morning, and then went to Central Embassy for work at 12:30pm. He visited the FoodLand supermarket at The Street Ratchada at 5pm. Then, that same day, he was notified that his friend had tested positive for the virus, which prompted him to also get tested at Bangkok Hospital that night at 10pm. He says he received the positive results yesterday.

Celebrities and actors who worked with him have now taken Covid-19 tests. One of them is actress Natapohn Taemeeruk,who says her test was negative, but will enter a self-imposed quarantine for 14 days and then will get tested again.

The Banyan Tree Hotel has issued a statement saying that it has closed its rooftop restaurant, called “Vertigo,” for cleaning and disinfection, and will reopen it this Saturday. The hotel says it will also disinfect the entire floor where the actor stayed, and has urged all employees, who were in contact with Matoom, to get tested and quarantine themselves for 14 days.

FoodLand supermarket also announced its closure for cleaning and disinfection and says it will reopen this Saturday. The air-conditioning system of the entire mall is also being cleaned. Employees deemed to be at-risk have also been tested and confirmed negative for the virus.

The CCSA’s spokesman, Taweesin Wissanuyothin, says that it is too early to determine whether Matoom could be considered a super-spreader, but he thanked him for disclosing his timeline in the public interest.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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