The Public Health Ministry today confirmed a new COVID-19 coronavirus infection, bringing Thailand’s national total to 42. An announcement from the ministry designating Covid-19 as a “dangerous communicable disease” will take effect tomorrow, strengthening authorities’ ability to combat the spread of the virus.
Sukhum Kanchanaphimai, the ministry’s permanent secretary, says the newest victim is a 21 year old salesman, whose job exposed him to foreign tourists. (NOTE: Thai PBS World reports that that the new patient is a tour guide, who recently returned from South Korea.)
Thailand has not yet had a fatality from the virus, and 28 patients, more than two thirds, have recovered, while 14 are being treated in hospital.
The announcement, which was signed by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, is based on provisions in Sections 5 and 6 of the Communicable Disease Act and was published in the Royal Gazette this morning. The National Committee on Communicable Diseases had earlier agreed to list Covid-19 as a dangerous communicable disease, to allow health authorities to respond more readily to contain the outbreak.
Among other measures, the new designation empowers officials to order those suspected of being infected to undergo treatment and put them in quarantine, and to close venues affected by the virus.
The ministry will begin handing out free face masks on Monday, with 100,000 pieces a day, or a maximum of three per person, available. They will be distributed at the ministry compound in Nonthaburi, just north of Bangkok.
Yesterday a vendor was charged with selling masks at inflated prices during a check on shops in the Government Complex. The vendor admitted selling masks at 100 baht for a package of five, but said the cost was high and she couldn’t sell them for any less.
Face masks and hand-sanitising gel are now categorised as price-controlled goods, after demand skyrocketed in recent weeks. Those found guilty of overcharging face a fine of up to 140,000 baht and/or a jail term of up to seven years.
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