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Thailand’s first local Covid-19 infection recalls the stigma

Jack Burton

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Thailand’s first local Covid-19 infection recalls the stigma | The Thaiger
PHOTO: New York Times

Thailand’s first locally transmitted case of Covid-19 recalls the stigmatisation he endured and wants the public to open their minds and not shun those who have recovered from the disease. Thongsook Thongrach was a taxi driver and wants his story to be known. He contracted the virus from foreign customers during the early stages of the outbreak in Thailand. His case was announced on January 31.

Thongsook says he was shocked and cried when doctors told him he was infected with the “Wuhan virus” as it was then known, because there is no known cure. The cabbie was admitted to hospital for treatment, recovered and was eventually discharged. He says, however, that after leaving the hospital, he isolated himself at home for 20 additional days to make sure he was 100% safe.

Thongsook says his first encounter with stigmatisation was when, halfway to their destination, 3 of his passengers asked him to stop and got out, telling him they didn’t want to become infected.

He says he was saddened because he was treated as a disease carrier, but adds that he was not angry with them, because the disease is easily communicable. He only wished they were more informed about the virus, so that they wouldn’t discriminate against those who have been infected and recovered.

The cabbie says that he has met some passengers who offered moral support and urged him to fight on. He felt encouraged, took good care of his health and, moreover, he says, he donates his plasma every 14 days, so that it can be used to treat the other patients.

The Disease Control Department’s deputy director-general says that, according to information from abroad, those who are infected and show minor symptoms can transmit the disease to the other people within the first 8-10 days, thus the use of 14 day quarantine to make sure those in quarantine are safe when they are discharged.

“I wish to inform everyone that patients who have recovered and been discharged from hospital have a very remote chance of infecting other people. So, please give them the chance to pursue their normal lives.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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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.

Protests

UPDATE: Thai singer “Ammy” arrested for allegedly setting fire to royal portrait

Maya Taylor

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UPDATE: Thai singer “Ammy” arrested for allegedly setting fire to royal portrait | The Thaiger

UPDATE: A popular Thai singer from the band Bottom Blues was arrested in Ayutthaya on lèse majesté charges for allegedly setting a portrait of HM the King on fire. Yesterday, the Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for those suspected of burning a portrait of HM the King outside a Bangkok prison on Sunday. Police earlier denied arresting the singer, Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka“Ammy.”

Police say the singer was arrested in a rented room at around 12:40am this morning. He told police was sick and requested to be taken to the hospital.

Ammy wrote a post on his Facebook page confessing to burning the royal portrait, saying he is ashamed and disappointed in himself and it was a foolish idea that put him in danger. He adds that there is a hidden, symbolic meaning being the burning of the portrait and he hopes everyone understands it.

Original story…

The Metropolitan Police Bureau has denied reports that the Thai musician and anti-government activist, Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka, “Ammy” has been arrested. The musician and 2 other people are suspected of setting fire to a portrait of His Majesty the King. The Bangkok Post reports that his whereabouts are currently unknown.

Piya Tawichai from the MPB says there is no record of the musician being taken into custody. He was responding to local media reports that Chai-amorn had been arrested.

“We haven’t received any report that Mr Chai-amorn was arrested or put in police custody.”

Chai-amorn and 2 others face charges of lèse majesté, arson, and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. They are suspected of setting fire to a portrait of His Majesty the King outside Klongprem Central Prison in the Chatuchak district of Bangkok in the early hours of Sunday morning. They also face charges of damaging state property.

It’s understood officers conducted a search for the musician yesterday, following the Criminal Court’s approval of arrest warrants for the 3 suspects. Piya says the MPB has sufficient evidence to back up the charges, including CCTV footage at the scene of the crime. It’s reported that Chai-amorn got out of a vehicle in order to set fire to the portrait, while the other 2 suspects remained in the car.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

PM defends measures used against Sunday protesters

Maya Taylor

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PM defends measures used against Sunday protesters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AFP

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended police action against protesters taking part in Sunday’s anti-government rally in Bangkok. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau used tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets in an effort to drive protesters back from the PM’s residence at the 1st Infantry Regiment barracks, King’s Guard. The PM insists the actions were in line with international standards.

“I insist the crowd-control measures were in accordance with international standards and police did not violate the protesters’ rights.”

The PM has also criticised some media outlets for their reporting of the rally, claiming they only focused on officers’ use of force against protesters. 33 people were injured at the rally – 23 police officers and 10 protesters. One police officer, named in a Bangkok Post report as Wiwat Sinprasert, died of heart failure. 22 protesters have been arrested, 4 of whom are minors who will have their cases heard in the Central Juvenile and Family Court.

Phukphong Phongpetra from the MPB says the use of rubber bullets was necessary in order to stop things getting out of control. He says protesters also gathered outside Din Daeng and Suthisarn police stations, where they set fire to police cars. He claims 90 officers were injured in the clashes, with 27 receiving hospital treatment.

National police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk says the measures used by police were not aimed at dispersing protesters, but rather to arrest anyone using violence against officers. He claims this latest protest was different to others, in that some activists kicked things off by attacking police officers.

“We’ve discussed it several times that we will enforce the laws where necessary. If the protesters didn’t harm officers or destroy barriers, we wouldn’t have had to act. And the protesters, they were unable to control each other.”

Opposition politicians have slammed the measures used against protesters, with Rangsiman Rome from the Move Forward Party claiming police fired rubber bullets at random and not at any particular targets.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1

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Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1 | The Thaiger

Coming up today… the fallout from yesterday’s latest protest violence in Bangkok, the first vaccine in Thailand who got it, and a major drug haul along the Mekong.

But first we’ll start up north where Lampang Province is joining other northern provinces todday by putting a total fire ban in place from today, March 1, until the end of April. Chiang Mai also started a ban on all deliberately lit fires from today and Lamphun, just south of Chiang Mai, already has one in place.

The bans are timely after a horrid weekend of air pollution in many of Thailand’s provinces over the long weekend, even as far south as the tourist destination of Phuket where visibility was down to about 1 kilometre and the smell of smoke was noticeable.

Whilst up in the north… 4 Thai women were arrested at a security checkpoint in Tak’s Mae Sot district after they illegally crossed the border from Myanmar into Thailand.

Illegal casinos and fancy hi-so massage parlours in Myanmar in areas near the border, have attracted wealthy Thais and Burmese. The establishments have also attracted plenty of Thais looking for well-paid work across the border.

In a major bust along the Mekong River, a notorious hotzone for drug trafficking, border patrol police seized 920 kilograms of dried, compacted cannabis from a boat along the Nakhon Pathom riverbank, bordering Laos.

Now to the weekend violence as the protests resume where they left off last year…

At least 22 people were arrested during the major Bangkok protest yesterday. It turned violent as pro-democracy activists marched toward the Thai PM’s residence. It’s been reported that one officer died during the rally, reportedly due to heart failure.

At least 33 people were injured… that includes 23 police officers. The clashes happened in front of 1st Infantry Regiment barracks on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road and involved around 1,500-2,000 activists from the Restart Democracy movement, part of the Free Youth group. The group has been protesting against the government and calling for reform of the country’s constitution and monarchy since protests began in July of last year.

And Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign started with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who received the first of China’s Sinovac vaccine yesterday. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was initially planned to be the first to kick off Thailand’s immunisation plan with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but due to problems with paperwork, the PM’s injection was postponed.

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