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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Epidemiologist transferred to Samut Sakhon to tackle Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Epidemiologist transferred to Samut Sakhon to tackle Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wara That
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With a record high count of active Covid-19 cases, Thailand’s Public Health Ministry has appointed an epidemiologist to tackle the recent outbreak concentrated around a seafood market in Samut Sakhon. More than 1,000 coronavirus cases are linked to the “Samut Sakhon cluster.” Many migrant workers who lived in cramped rooms together and worked seafood markets tested positive.

The epidemiologist Naretrit Khatthasima was appointed as chief of Samut Sakhon’s public health office. The ministry’s permanent secretary Kiatiphum Wongrajit says they called in Naretrit, who was chief of Phangna’s public health office before the transfer, because of his expertise and experience in epidemiology.

Samut Sakhon’s previous chief of public health Chartchai Kittyanant transferred to Phangna to fill Naretrit’s old post. The switch is not a punishment, the permanent secretary says, adding that it was done in the public’s best interest.

Health officials rolled out mass testing after hundreds in the province tested positive for Covid-19. Samut Sakhon governor Veerasak Vijitsaengsri says the infection rate appears to be falling.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Health Minister volunteering to receive first Covid jab, as effectiveness rate questioned

Maya Taylor

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Health Minister volunteering to receive first Covid jab, as effectiveness rate questioned | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

“I’ll go first!”

Thailand’s Public Health Minister has repeated his pledge to be the first person to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, in a bid to allay people’s concerns. Questions have been raised about the Chinese-manufactured Sinovac Biotech jab after its effectiveness rating was revised downwards by researchers in Brazil.

Anutin Charnvirakul says the vaccine process will be overseen by Sophon Mekthon from the Ministry of Public Health and all safety criteria will be met. The Pattaya News reports that the minister says he has confidence in the safety of the vaccine and is willing to prove it by being the first person to get the jab. It’s not the first time he has made this suggestion but there has been no official confirmation that the Health Minister will be first in line.

Thailand has ordered 2 million doses of the vaccine, with the first 200,000 expected to arrive next month. The government has also ordered 26 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca in partnership with Oxford University but is not expected to take delivery of that vaccine until the middle of the year.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya City mayor planning local rollout of Covid-19 vaccine

Maya Taylor

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Pattaya City mayor planning local rollout of Covid-19 vaccine | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

The mayor of Pattaya city says officials hope to be able to buy 240,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for administration to local residents. Sonthaya Khunpluem is reviewing finances and plans to set aside approximately 80 million baht for vaccine procurement, subject to government approval.

“Currently, house registration of Pattaya City has reached a total population of 120,000 people, then we would need about 240,000 shots of the vaccine. If the price of the supplied vaccine was approximately 300 baht, Pattaya would need a budget of at least 72 million baht in order to cover all the residents in the city.”

The move comes following confirmation from the government that local authorities could purchase their own vaccines in order to speed up the process. A number of other local authorities have also said they intend to do the same. The government has stipulated that only vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration can be purchased.

Sonthaya hopes that by vaccinating Pattaya residents, tourism in the area could get a boost and the economic recovery could begin. The Pattaya News reports that officials from the Pattaya City Finance Office and other relevant agencies have met to review projects planned for the year ahead, to determine Pattaya’s spending power for buying vaccines.

It’s understood the vaccine would be offered to local residents for free, but what is not known is if that includes foreign residents. Officials have also not confirmed when the rollout is expected to begin, or which vaccine would be used.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Crime

Arrest warrants sought for 8 civilians suspected of smuggling migrant workers

Maya Taylor

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Arrest warrants sought for 8 civilians suspected of smuggling migrant workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AP

Deputy national police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapas has confirmed that arrest warrants are being sought for 8 civilians implicated in the illegal smuggling of migrant workers. The Bangkok Post reports that the 8 face charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. The workers were trafficked from Myanmar to the central Thai province of Samut Sakhon, where the latest outbreak of Covid-19 began last month. 20 police officers are also being investigated for their role in the smuggling operation. They have been suspended from duty pending a full investigation. It’s thought there are up to 25 police officers suspected of involvement.

“After tracing the migrant workers’ route into Samut Sakhon and then jobs at its shrimp market, we found that most received direct assistance from more than 20 police officials and eight civilians. They smuggled the workers across the border in Sangkhla Buri district of Kanchanaburi and then provided transport to get them to Samut Sakhon.”

Damrongsak says an investigative committee is being set up prior to criminal prosecution and disciplinary action being taken against the police officers involved.

“A formal fact-finding procedure will be carried out before both disciplinary and legal action is pursued against them.”

The committee, which is being chaired by the assistant national police chief, will work with a separate panel set up by the government to investigate the role of police officers in people smuggling. The committee is mostly made up of police officers. Damrongsak says PM Prayut Chan-o-cha insists that investigating officers carry out their duties in an honest and transparent manner.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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