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Songkran

CCSA says no travel restrictions over Songkran this year, but no parties either

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr the foreign photographer - ฝรั่งถ่

Even though it’s still 7 weeks away, the Thai government is taking the front foot on the forthcoming Songkran “new year” celebrations.

The CCSA will meet next week to discuss potential disease prevention measures for the big Songkran holiday. However, it says it will not impose travel restrictions to prevent Thais from heading home for the annual commemoration.

Supot Malaniyom, who chairs the CCSA operations centre, says the current surge in infections is expected to plateau and then drop during March. Therefore, by the time the Thai New Year holiday comes around in April, people should be able to celebrate in a manner that’s as close to normal as possible.

Close, but not completely back to normal – put your super soaker away for another year. Supot says large gatherings and parties during Songkran will still be prohibited, but there will be no ban on inter-provincial travel. Thailand hasn’t had a completely “normal” Songkran, complete with wild water-fights, since 2019. Instead, celebrations have been muted, and many would say, more traditional, involving blessings and making merit at temples.

According to a Thai PBS World report, Supot says the CCSA is working on a contingency plan in the event that daily Covid cases reach 100,000. Should this happen, the country will need more treatment facilities, in addition to existing field hospitals. Yesterday, Thailand reported 23,557 new infections, a record high, and 38 deaths. The current surge in cases is being driven by the highly-contagious Omicron variant, but on the whole, cases of severe illness and deaths are lower.

The Public Health Ministry has said it wants to declare the virus endemic within 4 months, with officials working on a plan to transition the country out of the pandemic stage. The ministry says this will involve adjusting the duration of treatment for Covid patients and reducing the quarantine time for high-risk contacts.

In other news, asked about a proposal for students with Covid-19 and other high-risk individuals to sit exams in a dedicated area of their school, Supot says this will depend on each school’s capacity to arrange such areas.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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