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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

PM says there will be no national lockdown, provincial measures up to local governors

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Despite a rise in Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha insists there will be no nationwide lockdown. He says local governors are empowered to make the necessary decisions for their own provinces, should stricter measures be required to contain the spread of the virus. The PM was speaking while on a visit to the eastern province of Chon Buri, where a spike in cases has led to the closure of non-essential businesses in Pattaya and Banglamung.

The PM is also calling on members of the public to report any illegal gambling venues in their area, pledging to take action against such establishments. The eastern province of Rayong is currently dealing with a Covid-19 outbreak linked to an illegal gambling den. The provincial chief of police, Papatdet Katephan, has been transferred after he tried to deny the venue existed.

Meanwhile, Sophon Iamsirithavorn from the Disease Control Department says anyone who has visited the Rayong districts of Klaeng, Ban Khai, Nikhom Pattana, Muang and Ban Chang since December 1, should see a medical professional for a Covid-19 test if they develop a fever, cough, sore throat, or lose their sense of smell. It’s understood a family of 7 who travelled to Rayong in a minivan between December 17-20, have all tested positive for the virus, with infections linked to the province now being recorded in Chiang Mai, Lampang, Amnart Charoen, Ayutthaya, Nonthaburi and Trat provinces.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World


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  1. Avatar

    Bill Fischer

    Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 10:34 am

    “Up to you” = basically, passing the buck (or baht) to the local governments so he accepts zero responsibility if things go wrong.

    • Avatar


      Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 11:59 am

      Regrettably i sense both Bill and Toby may be right here. I recall the recent CCSA warning indicated worst-case scenario of 18,000 cases/day but what was more notable to me was their also indicating best-case scenario of hundreds or ~1000 cases per day (even with lockdowns). Along with an already occuring death from the virus, this is an indicator that the leaks from Myanmar have been going on longer and more severely than previously thought. If the virus is already out of control then shifting responsibility to local governors may well be a way to deflect blame for what they already know is coming, as would be allowing people to travel home for New Years so they can also individually blame the inevitable partying going on now. Trump also used this tactic when the virus was out of control in the US. We’ll know for sure shortly. Hope for lots of hot sunny weather in the next days and as unified a response on local and individual levels as we can.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 1:32 pm

        I certainly agree with Bill, but Toby’s idea that if you still have a sense of smell you’re not infectious is a bit bizarre.

        Inter-provincial travel is clearly a lot less than in previous years, with very few Thai tourists locally (normally we would have had 30 or 40 tour buses past us just this morning, but there hasn’t been a single one), but there are still plenty of people coming “home” for the New Year to see their families.

        What’s needed is strong and decisive leadership taking difficult and possibly unpopular decisions NOW, before it’s too late, and that seems to be completely lacking at the moment with conflicting and contradictory messages from anyone who wants their 15 minutes of fame.

        TBH I doubt if any decisions limiting travel would actually be unpopular at all, even with those in the tourism sector whose livelihoods are affected most. Certainly locally, where some rely entirely on domestic tourism and in particular the New Year period, they understand and accept that it’s not just inevitable but for the common good.

        • Avatar

          John Brown

          Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 2:19 pm

          What’s even worse, John, is that anosmia is a much less common symptom in Asia than in Western populations – perhaps as low as 10-15% for reported *cases*, not even infections (several studies around, I won’t look them up but one is at doi 10.1007/s12070-020-01986-8). Nowhere near the rate needed to make a meaningful dent at the policy level.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Yes a sneaky politician’s trick.
    I wonder, if a person who has the virus lose their sense of smell, it might be worthwhile testing people with smell tests.
    That way if the persons can identify the smell, they could dispute the testers declaring they are infectious, and need to be quarantined.
    I do not believe these testers.
    I believe they are working with hospitals and quarantine hotels to make money.
    Just a thought.

    • Avatar

      John Brown

      Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 2:32 pm

      Smell tests are for preliminary diagnosis, Toby, not a suitable replacement for proper diagnostics. See my reply to Issan John above for why.

      What you really want for what you have in mind is open-source antigen-based rapid test kits that are cheap enough to distribute widely. They do have lower sensitivity, but with a cost less than 30 baht per test at scale, being able to afford 2 tests every so often would effectively solve the false positive (low specificity) problem. A relatively small govt subsidy would make them broadly affordable, and a subsidy policy would actually be necessary to keep up with the changing antigen targets as the viruses continue to mutate rapidly.

      But these aren’t even legal to import much less give out right now!

      • Avatar

        Toby Andrews

        Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 11:59 pm

        Yes true enough, having no sense of smell is not really a good reliable test for not having the virus.

  3. Avatar


    Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    this lead to trump downfall the lack of leadership and letting each governor decide causing contradiction and mayhem in usa

    • Avatar

      John Brown

      Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 2:22 pm

      The US votes actually matter, ours don’t as our voices are procedurally invalidated by the 250 military stooges in the upper house, much to everyone’s shame (including the younger members of their own families).

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 4:30 pm

        Some matter more than others, John B, in the US’s own upper house. Like the Westminster model, there’s little democratic about it.

        • Avatar

          John Brown

          Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 10:52 pm

          As I understand (correct me if I’m wrong), the point of an upper house in both US and UK models is as a check and balance against the poor judgement of populism. In the US, the upper house is directly elected (whereas they were previously elected by state representatives whom were directly elected). In the UK, most of the upper house is appointed by elected officials. Yes?

          Here, the entire upper house was appointed by the military, none of whom were elected, and almost half of them are either military or police – unelected officials, appointed by unelected officials (the military junta), with no link to a democratic process whatsoever. You see the difference, yes?

          Whatever their flaws, both the UK and US systems are functioning democracies with checks and balances, whereas the Thai system is all check and balance and no democracy. They’re fundamentally incomparable.

          • Avatar

            Issan John

            Friday, January 1, 2021 at 1:29 pm

            I’m not defending the current Thai system or constitution at all, in any way, but the US and UK systems simply aren’t “democracies”, by any recognised definition, and the US government is sometimes barely “functioning”.

            While the president in the US is directly elected, the antiquated electoral system means that the president can be “elected” even if he has less popular votes than the loser – as happened with two of the last five presidents.

            The US constitution doesn’t actually require a popular vote to be held at all.

            … and while the PM in Thailand is at least chosen by both houses of Parliament (even if he chose one of the houses), the PM in the UK is chosen either by his own MPs (if Conservative, as currently) or by his own party (if Labour).

            To be a “democracy” the political leader (PM or President) has to be chosen either by popular vote (as in France) or by Parliament (as in Ireland).

            As for the upper houses, while the US’s is elected it’s not elected democratically in any way as a Senator elected from one part of the country represents 60 times as many people as one elected from another. That’s simply not “democratic”.

            … and in the UK, there’s no set number in the upper house so the government can appoint as many “Lords” as it likes in order to get a majority – the present government has just added 36 to do so, including the PM’s friends and brother, increasing the size of the upper house way beyond its recommended and customary limit.

            … and of the current 792 (soon to be 808), 26 are archbishops and bishops from the Church of England, and 92 are hereditary peers, currently all male, of whom 42 have to be Conservative, 3 Liberal Democrat, and 2 Labour.

            There’s nothing “democratic” about the US and UK systems in their upper houses or their political leadership (president or PM), and that’s before you even consider the antiquated “first past the post” electoral systems for the lower house, where in the UK at the moment (as is common) the government won only 43% of the vote but has 56% of the MPs.

            While there are plenty of genuinely “functioning democracies” around (my own view is that Ireland is one of the best), neither the UK nor the US are amongst them.

  4. Avatar


    Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    I’ve been saying for weeks covid was coming and all the smug farang best baton up the hatches it gets the old so easily enjoy as for the PM he will say something new in a week. hope you’ve got the rice bagged up safely in issan

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 4:27 pm

      “baton up” … that could be painful. I think you mean “batten down” 🙂

  5. Avatar


    Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    Funny yep Johnny you know what I meant anyway happy New year and stay safe cos if you believe or don’t believe in this disease something out thier is making people very poorly and killing some

  6. Avatar

    Ray W.

    Friday, January 1, 2021 at 10:18 am

    A policy that doesn’t demand centralized control, that empowers local government to make the decision that best meet thier situation, I am shocked and impressed that this wasn’t another big hand of government draconian approach. Maybe people are getting wise to the real damage that is happening.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, January 1, 2021 at 1:35 pm

      Agreed entirely, Ray W, but the problem is that there are times when a decision that best meets the local situation may not be best for the national situation and that’s when strong “the buck stops here” leadership is required.

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