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Doctors say Covid-19 first wave may be over, but warn against complacency

Jack Burton

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Doctors say Covid-19 first wave may be over, but warn against complacency | Thaiger
PHOTO: Dr Anupong Sujariyakul - Thai PBS World

A spokesman for the Department of Disease Control says the “first wave” of the Covid-19 outbreak in Thailand is over after the country seeing no cases of community transmissions for 44 straight days. Dr Anupong Sujariyakul warned, however, that the kingdom must be prepared for the possibility of a second wave, as the contagion is still spreading in many parts of the world, with several countries thought to have eliminated the virus already experiencing second outbreaks.

Anupong says the Ministry of Public Health supports the government’s plan to open the country slowly and cautiously, in order to restart its struggling economy, while still keeping its guard up by strictly observing the basic rules of hygiene: wearing face masks, regular handwashing, and social distancing.

As for the warning from scientists in 32 countries to the World Health Organization that Covid-19 can be spread through airborne droplets smaller than 5 microns, Anupong says the Public Health Ministry has previously explained that the contagion can be transmitted through airborne droplets. He notes, however, that the transmissions occur in enclosed environments such as intensive care units, but not in open spaces with good ventilation and sunlight. He advised the public to not be overly concerned about an airborne contagion at this point.

“If Covid-19 could be easily transmitted through the air, like tuberculosis, then worldwide operations would not be just 11-12 million cases, but many more.”

The deputy director of the DDC warns that Thai people are becoming less concerned about the prospect of a second wave and may actually be encouraging the return of contagion. On his Facebook page, Dr Thanarak Plipat was asked if the country is ripe for a second wave. His answer was “yes” as he pointed to the behavior of many Thais “who are putting Thailand at an increased risk,” saying many stores and shops no longer insist on the wearing of masks and customers appear to be more confident about not wearing them.

“Whether the disease will return again depends on the Thai people, and I personally feel that they are not afraid of Covid-19 and want it to return.”

Thanarak added that this attitude is very dangerous, and he wants people to “come to their senses.” He cited a report by Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, saying that about 3,000 migrant workers recently reentered Thailand after the easing of lockdown restrictions, noting that some of these people could be infected and may spread the disease.

“The best protection we currently have is to wear masks and observe the other safety measures.”

The director of the General Contagious Diseases Division echoed the words of both doctors, saying the fact that Thailand has been without local infection for 44 consecutive days doesn’t mean the disease has been eradicated. He warns that it could return with a vengeance “if we lower our guard and ignore basic safety measures.”

Doctors say Covid-19 first wave may be over, but warn against complacency | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Dr Thanarak Plipat – Dtac blog

SOURCES: Thai PBS World | Thai PBS World

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1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Beware. Beware. take precautions!!
    Yet they do not wear masks.

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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.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Partial lockdowns looming for “high-risk” provinces

Maya Taylor

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Partial lockdowns looming for “high-risk” provinces | Thaiger
PHOTO: Connor Williams on Unsplash

Several high-risk provinces may be heading into partial lockdown in order to bring spiraling Covid-19 infections under control. The Thai government is considering imposing the lockdowns in Bangkok and other central provinces, along with Chiang Mai, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and Chon Buri. Yesterday, new infections reached a record daily high since the arrival of the pandemic early last year. 1,335 new cases were reported, only 9 of which were imported.

Meanwhile, Pitakpol Boonyamalik, a public health inspector who oversees a number of southern provinces, is also calling for a lockdown on the southern island of Phuket. Pitakpol says he’s concerned about rising infections in the province, which up until about 10 days ago was preparing for a July re-opening to vaccinated tourists.

“The number of new Covid-19 infections in this health region continues to soar by the day. I must propose that the provincial communicable disease control committee of Phuket, in particular, considers locking down the province after Songkran in order to contain the outbreak situation there.”

Natthapon Nakpanich, chairman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, says partial lockdown discussions will be held with the Public Health Ministry today. He believes tough restrictions on certain activities in high-risk areas should be enough, insisting the latest outbreak is still under control.

The Bangkok Post reports that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha will hold a virtual CCSA meeting tomorrow, in which the partial lockdown proposal and tougher Covid-19 restrictions will be discussed. Natthapon says several other areas are expected to be designated as “red zones”, with further restrictions being introduced for restaurants and gyms.

“Restaurants might have to close sooner while fitness centres will likely have to limit the number of their patrons at any given time or suspend activities which the ministry considers a Covid-19 risk.”

The Thai Retailers Association and the Thai Shopping Centre Association have issued a joint statement in which they called on members and partners to maximise Covid-19 screening protocols. The TRA and TSCA have also asked their members to close at the earlier time of 9pm from today until further notice.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to reign in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now manacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need teo push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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Chon Buri

Chon Buri adds 99 new Covid-19 infections today

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Chon Buri adds 99 new Covid-19 infections today | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Covid-19 cases continue to be identified from entertainment venues across Thailand.

The Chon Buri Covid-19 cluster is spreading with the Chon Buri Provincial Public Health Office confirming 99 new cases today. The province, which contains Pattaya, seems to be following a growing infection trend. The Pattaya area saw 47 new cases, and Mueang Chon Buri had 41 cases, with other districts having less than 5 each. 2 people infected with Covid-19 were brought from outside Chon Buri for treatment locally. The new cases bring the total number of Covid-19 infections in the province up to 710 people.

While infections are on the rise, officials advise that the numbers are not showing a severe or exponential increase and are in line with daily averages. They say the growing numbers are more likely due to “diligent testing throughout the community”, especially in nightlife venues and popular entertainment districts. 984 cautionary tests were administered today along with 342 people suspected to have been in close contact with Covid-19 infected people.

Within the new infections, 41 people are still being investigated to find the source of the virus, while 29 people were family members or close contacts of other infected people.

The sources of new infections are…

  • PATTAYA
    • 3 infections at The Box 69 Pattaya
    • 3 infections at Cetus Pattaya
    • 3 infections at Garden 168
    • 1 infection at Bone Pattaya
    • 1 infection at Insomnia Pattaya
  • OTHER AREAS IN CHON BURI
    • 5 infections at Flintstone’s Pub in Meung Chon Buri, the source of 137 cases total.
    • 4 infections at Infinity Siracha
    • 3 infections at 2.7 Replay Bang Saen
  • FROM OUTSIDE CHON BURI
    • 4 infections at Entertainment venues in Bangkok

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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