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Whispered but not proposed – could a lockdown be coming?

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PHOTO: Covid-19 Lockdowns are possible but not proposed. Yet. (via epw.in)

This week Thailand’s complicated relationship with Covid-19 finds the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration open to considering a lockdown. The CCSA indicated they would consider possible proposals from the Ministry of Public Health to stop the spread of Covid-19, up to and including a lockdown.

National Security Council Secretary-General Natthapon Nakpanich clarified today that there are no official proposals currently, but if one was made, the CCSA is prepared to consider the possibility. He has heard talks and discussions about it, but so far no one has moved to call for the dreaded lockdowns that can be helpful in fighting Covid-19, but controversial and devastating to the economy.

Interestingly, the general had a unique take on what constitutes a lockdown. He stated that restricting travel and movement and closing businesses as happened last year were not elements of a lockdown. Rather, a lockdown is the implementation of strong safety measures like nightly curfews.

Gen Natthapon said that talk of the L-word could come up in the scheduled CCSA meeting on July 12 or even sooner, but that the government will likely take a 15-day assessment period before moving to lock down any areas. He suggested that the government is looking for less damaging action to deal with Covid-19 like increasing bed supplies and adding some travel restrictions as a preference to a full lockdown.

The lockdown last year cost about 300 billion baht and people and the country were in much better economic shape then. A similar one this month could easily cost 300 billion baht per month and still not make up for all the economic losses for people reduced to hand-to-mouth living with no more savings left to survive.

The focus now is to fight Covid-19 in ways that minimize people’s hardship. If Thailand starts locking down, Bangkok would likely be first to fall, with the capital and its surrounding provinces at the highest risk. Areas with outbreaks of the Delta variant would be candidates for semi-lockdown measures. But the harshest measures would require the Ministry of Public Health to sell a lockdown idea to the CCSA with extremely compelling arguments.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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