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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UK variant arrives in Thailand, top virologist warns against unnecessary Songkran travel

Maya Taylor

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UK variant arrives in Thailand, top virologist warns against unnecessary Songkran travel | Thaiger
PHOTO: Luciano Teixeira on Pixabay

“Whatever will be, will be. The reason is, it’s a matter that involves a huge number of people. The government will have to try to cope with that later.” – Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

A prominent Thai virologist has confirmed that the so-called UK Covid-19 variant, aka B117, is behind the latest cluster of infections detected at Bangkok nightlife venues, and now potentially spreading out to other provinces. Prof. Yong Poovorawan from Chulalongkorn University warns that this variant is 1.7 times more contagious than the original one and is urging people to avoid unnecessary travel over the Songkran holiday.

“If possible, there should not be any travel or movement right now. If that’s not possible, it is highly necessary to have strict measures to control the disease. Without sufficient intervention taken to curb these high-risk activities (over Songkran), the number of new infections could even reach thousands per day.”

Officials say they are baffled as to how the variant reached the Kingdom, despite strict testing and quarantine protocols. Yong says the government now needs to balance the risk to elderly citizens with measures to stimulate the economy over Songkran.

“The reason is that if there are so many new cases of Covid-19, economic stimulus through promotion of tourism won’t work as nobody would want to travel to an epidemic zone. Visiting older relatives during this festival is good, but it won’t be good if such visits mean spreading the virus to them also.”

However, the Bangkok Post reports that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says the government will not impose a lockdown over Songkran, insisting that each province can implement its own disease prevention measures. He adds that the government will have to manage any potential fallout after the holiday.

“Whatever will be, will be. The reason is, it’s a matter that involves a huge number of people. The government will have to try to cope with that later. Of course, we can order a new lockdown and make everyone stay home (during the festival). But the question is will anyone be happy with that?”

Meanwhile, Yong is reportedly frustrated at the rate of vaccine rollout, warning of a need to ramp things up as a result of the new infections and the rapidly-spread variant.

“If Thailand can administer 100,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines per day, it will take about 3 years to achieve effective herd immunity against the pandemic, while if up to 300,000 doses are given a day, it will take only 1 year to achieve that goal.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 10:50 am

    All viruses mutate, and in some cases become a weaker variant. Google it.

  2. Avatar

    Gosport

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 11:24 am

    It is not good to use a country name as the prefix of virus variants.

  3. Avatar

    Hasse

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 11:36 am

    How take the uk variant of virus to Thailand? All farang need to stay in quarantine so it can’t be one of our.
    Vaccinate 70 % of the population befor talk about tourist come back

  4. Avatar

    Richard

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    Time to be more responsible Thaiger and stop just blindly copying your sources. The variant was first detected in the UK and no one knows where it originated. It is not called the “UK variant” by epidemiologists or responsible journalists and media outlets.

  5. Avatar

    Brian

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    Need stop using this name the uk variant. Remember how angry China got when we was all calling this the China virus before the name Covid 19

  6. Avatar

    Dreqo

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 2:06 pm

    There’s no such thing as a UK variant. That’s simply just propaganda misdirection from the virus origin party.

  7. Avatar

    David Mann

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    Hassle. Is it just “Farang” (racist term in my view) you want to quarantine ? What about Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao? Or even Korean and Japanese or Chinese? The use of the term U.K. variant is fine by me, as technically that’s where the first mutation of this type was discovered. However, let’s not forget this is the U.K. variant of the Chinese Virus. You see where this leads to? More racism and hatred. Drop the naming of variants by country and stop racist terms like Farang. Not helpful at all.

  8. Avatar

    Tony

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    All of them English gents will be speeking try to convince the bar girls I’m not from England no me come from china

  9. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    Not just “farang” but everyone, David Mann, even Thais. In Buriram even Thais from other provinces.

    The only problem I have with naming variants after countries is when it makes people think that’s the only place they come from, like the S Africa variant from Africa.

  10. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    Look carefully and see a picture of a Covide contagious person on the sign in the picture above.

  11. Avatar

    ada

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    They should not allow to come people from the uk to Thailand.
    Anyway nobody will miss them here

  12. Avatar

    Anotify

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 6:29 pm

    Who said the term farang applies only to westerners ? From what I understand it applies to anyone not originally from Thailand. Hence you apply unwillingly your own brand of racism.

    • Thaiger

      Thaiger

      Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 8:16 pm

      The term ‘farang’ usually refers to caucasian westerners.

  13. Avatar

    David Mann

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    I see they now think the “U.K. variant” arrived from Cambodia 😂😂.
    Ada, why don’t you just close the borders to everyone and be like North Korea. That’s what most Thais have always wanted. Oh, that’s until they are now realising how important foreign tourists are for 12% of your GDP Just need to get a grip buddy. It’s 2021 or 2564 what ever you prefer!

  14. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    Yes we will not miss you in the UK either ada.
    You will not come anyway unless a UK citizen is paying your air ticket.

  15. Avatar

    David Mann

    Friday, April 9, 2021 at 2:57 am

    Anotify, as Thaiger has explained. The term Farang refers to white westerners. Like Gringo in Mexico. So yes, it is a racist term.

  16. Avatar

    Phuket Tony

    Friday, April 9, 2021 at 11:43 am

    We really have to all come together and learn to live with this and stop this hiding and living in FEAR…

    Closing off borders, separating families, and destroying peoples livelihoods is unacceptable and cant go one.. We have all put too much attention into Covid and act like everything here on out should be centered on this…. very sad and very wrong..

  17. Avatar

    Panda

    Friday, April 9, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    Ada, If I leave Thailand, will you pay my monthly rent to the landlord?
    I guess the answer is no.
    Don’t talk in the name of others who obviously don’t share your point of view and please, keep your small brained racist comments to yourself.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

2 police officers transferred over Covid cluster linked to Bangkok nightlife

Maya Taylor

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2 police officers transferred over Covid cluster linked to Bangkok nightlife | Thaiger
PHOTO: Gerry Popplestone / Flickr

2 senior police officers in Bangkok’s fashionable Thonglor district have been transferred pending an investigation into a Covid-19 cluster linked to pubs and clubs in the area. According to Thai PBS World, the superintendent of Thonglor police station, Duangchote Suwancharas, and the inspector for suppression affairs, Thanakorn Ngamyen, were re-assigned to the operations centre of the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s 5th Division yesterday.

The transfers were ordered by the commander of the 5th Division, Sophon Sarapat, who has placed Kampanart Arunsri in the role of acting superintendent of Thonglor police.

The pubs and clubs of Thonglor are popular with “Hi-So” Thais, including celebrities, politicians, business figures, and senior government officials. The third wave of Covid-19, currently surging across the country, is thought to have sprung from Thonglor’s party scene. Revellers at the district’s nightlife venues are being blamed for a rapid rise in infections which has now led to over 1,000 infections in Bangkok alone. The highly contagious UK variant, aka B117, was also detected in the Thonglor cluster.

Bangkok officials are planning a number of field hospitals to cope with a rise in infections that may lead to bed shortages in the capital’s hospitals. Several facilities in the city have suspended Covid-19 testing amid speculation they have run out of beds. Everyone who tests positive for the virus is admitted to hospital for quarantine and treatment purposes, even if asymptomatic. This is believed to be contributing to the bed shortage, but officials say they have no intention of changing a policy that has previously enabled them to contain the virus more effectively.

A new field hospital is set to open near Bangkok City Hall at the sports stadium in the Bang Bon district today.

Officials say 3 other field hospitals are ready and a number of hotels, many of which have already served as alternative state quarantine facilities, will also operate as “hospitels”, housing asymptomatic patients and those with only mild symptoms. City officials say that between them, the field hospitals and hotels can accommodate up to 5,000 patients.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Hua Hin

Health officials say pubs, nightlife venues the new ground zero for third wave

Maya Taylor

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Health officials say pubs, nightlife venues the new ground zero for third wave | Thaiger
PHOTO: mtgf93 / Flickr

Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Thailand, with 967 new infections reported yesterday, when there were just 26 at the start of the month. Health officials are in no doubt where the surge is coming from, pointing the finger at nightlife venues. A rise in infections in Hua Hin appears to back up the theory first floated after a cluster of infections was linked to Bangkok nightlife.

The Bangkok Post reports that the western province of Prachuap Khiri Khan has recorded 193 cases since the start of the month. 142 of them are in Hua Hin and officials believe they can be traced back to 1 “super-spreader” individual. A 26 year old woman, employed at the Krystal Club in Bangkok, travelled to Hua Hin with her boyfriend on March 30. At the time of her journey, she was showing no sign of infection.

On her first night in Hua Hin, she went to the Maya Exclusive Pub with 7 friends and family members. The next day, she developed a high fever, and the following day, April 1, was informed that her colleagues at the Krystal Club had tested positive for Covid-19. The woman went to a Hua Hin hospital to be tested and was confirmed as infected on April 3.

On April 4, she was admitted to Hua Hin hospital, but by then, the virus was already spreading in Hua Hin. The woman’s boyfriend tested positive, as did 140 people in Hua Hin, and 52 in other districts. The Public Health Ministry says the infections can be traced back to the woman’s attendance at the Maya pub on March 30.

Officials are using this example to illustrate the role pubs and entertainment venues play in this third wave of the virus. They say at least 137 nightlife establishments in at least 15 provinces are behind new surges of infection. Leading virologist Yong Poovorwan from Chulalongkorn University says the development is all the more concerning, given that the original cluster linked to Bangkok nightlife is the B117 variant, which is far more contagious.

Meanwhile, Opas Karnkawinpong from the Department of Disease Control accuses partygoers of not cooperating with contact-tracing officials, which makes controlling the spread of infection more difficult.

“Many pubgoers do not give us information until two or three days have passed.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Investigations of Covid-19 infected elite rule-breakers demanded

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Investigations of Covid-19 infected elite rule-breakers demanded | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: VIP clubs and their wealthy customers may have violated rules and led to Covid-19 outbreaks

Investigations are being demanded by a corruption watchdog into Thai politicians infected with Covid-19 after allegedly attending venues in the Thong Lor entertainment venues in Bangkok that have now emerged as the ground zero for the Coronavirus third wave in the Kingdom.

The Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand are being asked to investigate the latest Covid-19 outbreak, noting in a Facebook post that the second wave was also linked to illegal activities, spreading through illegal migrants and other visiting gambling dens. This third wave is also angering those who see the wealthy elite and powerful politicians frequenting high-end bars and not following Covid-19 safety protocols.

Mana Nimitmongkol, secretary-general of ACT argues that the ministers visiting these clubs did not behave “ethically”, and it’s part of a larger problem. He is pushing for legal action against not only club owners, but against police, public health officials, and even the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration for failing to enforce laws to protect against Covid-19.

Investigations into whether the code of ethics had been violated were requested to be carried out by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Ombudsman and the committee on ethical standards.

As entertainment venues have been ordered closed for at least 2 weeks, Mana proposes that along with restrictions, a hotline to report rule-breakers should be set up, and all people should be held to the same standard without exception.

The president of the Rural Doctors Society agreed, saying that especially important is the need for Covid-19 infected public officials to disclose their personal timelines to reassure the public and assist in contract tracing. It is feared that little or no action will be taken to investigate and punish powerful rulebreakers.

One controversial infection was that of Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, rumoured to be infected from Thong Lor nightclubs, but later shown to be in another province at the time. The entertainment venue outbreak was not completely innocent though, as details emerged that the minister’s infection was in fact passed to him via an aide who had frequented clubs in Thong Lor.

Chuvit Kamolvisit, a former massage parlour owner turned activist, has been outspoken on the issue, calling for investigations into high-society VIP clubs like Krystal Club and Emerald Club, who allegedly flaunted restrictions and ended up with dozens of Covid-19 infected staff members.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau chief had said that legal action was pending against these clubs for the virus spreading.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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