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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Health officials deny WHO investigation into Bangkok’s Chatuchak market as potential origin of Covid

Maya Taylor

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Health officials deny WHO investigation into Bangkok’s Chatuchak market as potential origin of Covid | Thaiger
PHOTO: Aljazeera America

Health officials in Thailand are denying reports that the World Health Organisation is investigating Chatuchak market in Bangkok in ongoing efforts to establish the origin of Covid-19. The reports have surfaced in Danish media, following a WHO visit to Wuhan last month, with doubt hanging over the theory that the pandemic started in the central Chinese city.

Nation Thailand reports that the Department of Disease Control has held a press briefing in which it refutes suggestions the virus could have come from wildlife traded at Chatuchak market. The market has previously come under fire from animal welfare and wildlife protection organisations. In 2016, research by wildlife protection group Traffic pointed to the market’s ongoing illegal trade in protected bird species, while an earlier report highlighted the market’s role in the illegal trade of freshwater turtles and tortoises.

Despite several conservation experts pointing to the risks associated with the wildlife trade, Chawetsan Namwat from the DDC denies the suggestion the WHO is investigating the market for potential links to Covid-19. He says the media reports are based on evidence that the Thai horseshow bat carries another SARS virus that shares over 91% of its genetic code with the Covid-19 virus. He adds that this virus cannot be transmitted to humans, saying the DDC’s advice continues to be that humans should not consume wild animals.

“This is just an academic assumption, not absolute truth. We are constantly monitoring the animal-trading zone in Chatuchak weekend market. Even if there is no clear evidence on the origin of this virus, we still need to be vigilant and maintain strong disease-prevention measures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break.

Tim Newton

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Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break. | Thaiger

…. before the next round of restrictions come into force at midnight tonight.

Bangkok and 17 other Thai provinces (there are 77 in total) are now declared maximum control areas. These “red zones” are the feature of the Thai Government’s new restrictions to get a grip on its rising Covid infection numbers since the start of April. The restrictions will last for at least 14 days.

From tonight, at midnight, some new restrictions are in force, not only in the red zones but every where else.

Think nightlife, think gatherings of more than 50 people, think restaurants. These are the area the government has generally targeted. The CCSA spokesperson yesterday, and the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, went out of their way to portray the new restrictions as NOT curfews and NOT lockdowns. But, if you live in a red zone province, including Bangkok, then the new set of restrictions are a lockdown in just about every sense without outright telling people to stay at home.

Everything will have to be closed from 11pm – 4am in the morning, including all convenience stores. Hope you’ve paid your Netflix subscription!

Restaurants and cafes in the red zones will be able to open until 11pm, but dine-in services will only be available until 9pm. Takeaway food can be sold until 11pm to allow the businesses and activities to continue. And there will no alcohol available anyway.

The government is also advising businesses in Bangkok, and other red zone provinces, to allow employees to work from home, or have adequate precautions in place if they need to work in the offices.

Unlike the last two outbreaks of Covid within Thailand, this cluster has emerged from the indulgences of Bangkok’s hi-sos, celebrity and look-at-me culture. The trendy clubs around Thong Lor and Ekkamai are the destination for people that want, or need, to be seen, including some politicians who have either ended up infected or knew someone in the club and pub scene and have had to self-isolate.

The late evening sojourns, with nary a care for masks or social distancing, small spaces, lots of people… it has proven the perfect breeding ground for a new Covid cluster.

Bangkok’s legendary shopping centres and community malls will have to shut their doors by 9pm, a situation now across the board for all Thai shopping centres including places like your local Tesco mall.

But convenience stores, supermarkets, community markets can stay open until 11pm.

At this stage people are being advised to to travel to Bangkok, or any other red zone province, for the next 2 week (after midnight tonight). The travel advisory isn’t an order at this stage, more of a hurry-up-and-get-back-from-your-holidays request.

Last weekend saw the mass exodus out of the city. The same return from the provinces is happening today and tomorrow. Even though the official Songkran holiday ran from Tuesday to Thursday this week, plenty of people have take the Mondays and Friday off last week to end up with an extended 9 day holiday. The government was hoping the longer Songkran break would be a boon for the shattered hospitality and tourism businesses. But last weekends sudden climb of new Covid infections caused some people to cancel or postpone their bookings.

The annual Songkran road toll, usually a national disgrace, was cut by over 50% this year due to the lack of traffic and people deciding to wait it out and catch up with their families later.

Thailand recorded 1,547 new infections around Thailand today, a slight drop from yesterdays’ 1,585 reported new cases. But the last 4 days have revealed the largest list of daily infections since the first case was detected in Thailand on January 13 last year, a 61 year old Chinese passenger on a flight from Wuhan to Suvarnabhumi – the first known case of the novel coronavirus outside of China.

2 leading police from the Thong Lor police station have already been sidelined into inactive posts, a face-saving measure to show the government were being pro-active in reacting to the sloppy enforcement (or non-existent enforcement) of Covid precautions in the district’s active nightlife. Officials are also tracking down the owners of the nightclubs and bars for potential prosecution, principally around Bangkok and in Phuket where parties, promoted and run by a group called ‘Kolour’ ended up becoming Covid spreader events.

Here’s a list of the red zone provinces.

1. Bangkok
2. Chiang Mai
3. Chon Buri
4. Samut Prakan
5. Prachuap Khiri Kan
6. Samut Sakhon
7. Pathum Thani
8. Nakhon Pathom
9. Phuket
10. Nakhon Ratchasima
11. Nonthaburi
12. Songkhla
13. Tak
14. Udon Thani
15. Suphanburi
16. Sa Kaeo
17. Rayong
18. Khon Kaen

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At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok

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At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok | Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikipedia
At-risk members of Thailand’s Social Security scheme can get free Covid-19 tests in Bangkok starting tomorrow. The Ministry of Labour will provide the tests, covering members under Sections 33, 39, and 40 of the Social Security Act. The programme will be held at the Bangkok Youth Centre (Thai-Japan) in Bangkok’s Din Daeng district.
The ministry expects to test up to 300 people per hour, with results to be received in 1 to 2 days. If anyone is found to be infected, they will be sent to hospitals under the Social Security scheme for free treatment. Currently, 81 hospitals are registered with the ministry, offering a total of over 1,000 beds.
At-risk Social Security members can get free Covid tests from tomorrow in Bangkok | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile, Thailand’s army is getting ready to deal with the influx of Covid-19 infections as its deputy spokeswoman says 2 more field hospitals are now in place. The hospitals are in Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan to help ease the burden of hospitals.

Already, an army field hospital has been set up at the Thanarat military camp, in conjunction with the Fort Thanarat Hospital, to accommodate 69 Covid-19 patients from the Hua Hin Hospital and Rajamangala University of Technology’s field hospital in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

The Army Welfare Department and Phramongkutklao Hospital have also set up a field hospital in Bangkok’s Dusit district to help treat 86 additional Covid patients. And, in Songkhla province, the Rattanapol military camp is preparing to set up a 100 bed field hospital. Soldiers in PPE suits were also instructed to disinfect the Hat Yai International Airport.

Today, the CCSA announced 1,582 new Covid infections across Thailand in the past 24 hours. The small increase on yesterdays total will provide the CCSA with the information they need for this afternoon’s scheduled meeting, chaired by the Thai PM. It is expected that they will announce new restrictions but are unlikely to go for total lockdowns of provinces or ‘at risk’ districts. The Thaiger will bring this information to you ASAP after it is announced.

Here is the list of the current 18 red zone provinces which could have their restrictions raised at this afternoon’s meeting of the CCSA. Read more HERE.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai army sets up 2 more field hospitals to help with Covid influx

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Thai army sets up 2 more field hospitals to help with Covid influx | Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikimedia

Thailand’s army is getting ready to deal with the influx of Covid-19 infections as its deputy spokeswoman says 2 more field hospitals are now in place. The hospitals are in Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan to help ease the burden of hospitals in 2 of the hardest hit areas.

Already, an army field hospital has been set up at the Thanarat military camp, in conjunction with the Fort Thanarat Hospital, to accommodate 69 Covid patients from the Hua Hin Hospital and Rajamangala University of Technology’s field hospital in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

The Army Welfare Department and Phramongkutklao Hospital have also set up a field hospital in Bangkok’s Dusit district to help treat 86 additional Covid patients. And, in Songkhla province, the Rattanapol military camp is preparing to set up a 100 bed field hospital. Soldiers in PPE suits were also instructed to disinfect the Hat Yai International Airport.

The move to help accommodate hospitals was due to the army chief’s concerns over the recent 3rd wave, which has seen daily infections increase to the thousands. The chief instructed each army unit to provide extra beds and facilities to patients in each hospital after teaming with public health agencies.

Today, the CCSA announced 1,582 new Covid infections across Thailand in the past 24 hours. The small increase on yesterdays total will provide the CCSA with the information they need for this afternoon’s scheduled meeting, chaired by the Thai PM. It is expected that they will announce new restrictions but are unlikely to go for total lockdowns of provinces or ‘at risk’ districts. The Thaiger will bring this information to you ASAP after it is announced.

Here is the list of the current 18 red zone provinces which could have their restrictions raised at this afternoon’s meeting of the CCSA. Read more HERE.

Since April 1 there has been a steady growth of new infections, described as the third wave in Thai media – much higher than the number of daily infections in the first and second waves.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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