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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Fortress Thailand – Thai PM asks for co-operation




The Kingdom has raised the drawbridge and hunkers down for weeks, or months, of self-isolation and a roll-out of measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

Foreign nationals may no longer enter Thailand and the government has not ruled out a 24 hour curfew under the state of emergency declared by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, which went into effect at midnight, last night. The PM says the emergency decree is Thailand’s best chance to fight the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Prayut announced Tuesday the country would be under a state of emergency as of today until the end of April, as Thailand battles with virus transmissions. The army will set up checkpoints across the country under the emergency decree and 16 “first-level instructions” have been issued, following the PM’s national address yesterday. No national curfew has yet been imposed. Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam, who oversees legal affairs, says “it remains a possibility”.

“If a curfew is imposed, it will be without warning, so people will panic and buy up food and basic necessities. The curfew for Covid-19 is likely to cover 24 hours, with exceptions for individuals seeking medical treatment, those going to court or those working in broadcasting services.”

Among the latest instructions, foreigners are banned from entering the kingdom, “with the exception of diplomats, shippers, drivers, pilots and others permitted by the PM”. Thai nationals stranded in other countries will be allowed to return, provided they have a fit-to-fly health certificate.

Meanwhile the general public has been urged to refrain from travelling. Interprovincial travellers must install an app for tracking and will be required to undergo screening at several checkpoints.

“Children under 5 and adults over 70, and those with underlying health problems, are strongly urged to stay home. Public gatherings are banned.”

The PM says he will take drastic action against those who take advantage of others during the crisis, an apparent reference to hoarding and price-gouging.

“They will be shown no mercy.”

Prayut says that, as the situation may worsen, more stringent measures will be necessary to stem the spread of the virus and minimise its impact on people and their livelihoods. He appealed to the public to comply despite the inconveniences.

“From now the measures to be imposed will be more intense and will affect people’s lives. I’m asking you to comply and be responsible. Some people may feel their rights are being infringed upon, but all this is being done to protect lives. If we take things seriously, we can get through this.”

To control “fake news” that may cause panic, Prayut is calling on the media to check the facts with a special communications team. A team of doctors will hold a daily press briefing.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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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.

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