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Songkran: Economy booster or Covid-19 spreader?

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Songkran: Economy booster or Covid-19 spreader? | Thaiger
PHOTO: Covid-19 can't dampen the Songkran water festival's spirit!

While the government is encouraging people to enjoy themselves and spend money in the struggling economy for the upcoming Songkran Festival, some Covid-19 experts are warning that this may bring about a third or even fourth wave of infections. The past has shown that people letting loose and partying free is often the source of viral outbreaks, as was the case last year and again just recently in Bangkok pubs of Thong Lor. The chief of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, Dr Yong Poovorawan, posted a warning on his Facebook page Sunday to those who would go out and celebrate recklessly.

“Be prepared to see the daily infection rates jump from tens to hundreds per day after the Songkran festival. We have become too complacent and that means we need to waste a lot of financial resources for testing, monitoring and curing the disease.”

Yong warned that relaxed restrictions in popular areas for nightlife and entertainment are a major contributing factor to the rapid spread of Covid-19 infections. Songkran would be a macro version of this. While vaccines are now becoming available throughout Thailand, the rate of vaccination and the speed at which they’re being deployed is not fast enough to keep us safe from outbreaks. While Phuket aims to have a 70% vaccination rate by July 1st, all of Thailand will likely not be fully vaccinated before the end of the year. Some estimate it will take 2 years for immunization rates to hit 70% worldwide.

While Thailand has relatively few Covid-19 infections leading into Songkran, a few recent spikes have officials wary again. Prisons in Surat Thani and Narathiwat have gone into lockdown after over 100 infections were discovered. And an outbreak just a few days ago from an entertainment area has now been linked to at least 71 new coronavirus cases, including a now-debunked rumour of the Deputy Prime Minister’s infection, says the Department of Disease Control. In Khon Kaen, 2 doctors were found to be infected with Covid-19, and their hospital decided to cease taking on new patients and postponed scheduled operations as a result.

Authorities still plan on moving ahead with Songkran festivities despite worries of the spread Covid-19. It is advised that those celebrating exercise caution, social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand sanitizing to try to neutralise any new outbreaks.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mister Stretch

    Monday, April 5, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    My bet is on no financial gain and many new infections.

  2. Avatar

    Bill

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 1:35 am

    Lets see. The first wave had 30 deaths in a population of 69 million. The second wave might have had 40. They really should be afraid of the third and fourth wave. Who cares about poverty, suicide, and road carnage.

  3. Avatar

    David Mann

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 3:08 am

    Totally agree. This is obviously a super spreader event. How can it not be? The situation this year in Thailand is worse than it was last April in terms of cases of Covid 19. So if last year was stopped, then why not this year. Both decision can’t be right.

  4. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 10:21 am

    It might spread covid, but it might also spread the common cold with masses of people being wet.
    They should take the risk and have a good time.
    First they have to catch it, then they have to be overcome with it. Many persons catch covid, recover and never knew they had had it. The chances of death is 3 percent, and most that die are old, fat and already ill. They should isolate, not thousands of healthy persons.
    This will not do the economy much good because it will be Thais trading with Thais.
    Nothing is being manufactured. Nothing is being harvested.
    They need the ferangs, but they will not allow them in without a lot of restrictions.
    The ferangs will not be there spending money.

  5. Avatar

    Slugger

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Oh woe is me! We’re all doomed!

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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.

Thailand

Songkran road deaths, injuries cut in half thanks to Covid surge

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Songkran road deaths, injuries cut in half thanks to Covid surge | Thaiger

Songkran New Year celebrations have seen road deaths and injuries cut in half thanks to surge of Covid infections just before the start of the annual holiday that essentially cancelled major gatherings. The Road Safety Director Centre says 192 people have been killed and 1,818 injured so far during the Songkran holiday, with 37 dying on Wednesday alone. But those numbers, although disturbing, are half of what they were in 2019 when the Songkran holiday was in full swing.

Of 1,795 accidents over the past 5 days, Nakhon Si Thamarat accounted for 76, followed by Chiang Mai (63), Songkhla (49) and Surat Thani (49). In terms of deaths, Bangkok, Khon Kaen and Pathum Thai led with 8 each, followed by Chon Buri (7), Chiang Mai (7) and Sakhon Nakhon (6).

Over 3,700 motorists have been charged with drink driving offences during the first 5 days of the Songkran holiday, accounting for 39.6% of all accidents, followed by speeding (27%). Witthawan Sunthornkajit from the Department of Probation says that between April 10 and 14, 3,741 motorists received suspended sentences for driving under the influence, 99.66% (3,730 cases), followed by drug-driving at 0.29% (11 cases) and reckless-driving at 0.05% (2 cases). 1,648 of those were on April 14, the highest number for the 5-day period.

The worst-offending provinces were Chaiyaphum, in the north-east of the country, with 290 drink-driving incidents, Chiang Rai in the north, with 264, and Buriram in the north-east, with 251.

“Defendants in 3,730 DUI cases had consumed alcohol, while in the other 11, offenders had taken narcotic substances. 19 defendants were ordered to wear electronic monitoring tags and banned from leaving home between 11pm and 4am for 15 days, while their driver’s licences have been suspended for 6 months.”

Like in past years, motorcycles continued to be the type of vehicles most involved in the accidents during the festival, at 79.3%, followed by pickup trucks (6.6%) and passenger cars (3.6%).

Over the past 5 days, most accidents occurred on highways (65.7%) and from 4pm to 8pm (30.3%). Most of the people who were injured or killed in road accidents were those aged 50 or more (23.5%).

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Thailand

First 5 days of Songkran see more than 3,700 motorists booked for drink-driving

Maya Taylor

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First 5 days of Songkran see more than 3,700 motorists booked for drink-driving | Thaiger
PHOTO: Kathy on Flickr

Over 3,700 motorists have been charged with drink driving offences during the first 5 days of the Songkran holiday. Witthawan Sunthornkajit from the Department of Probation says that between April 10 and 14, 3,741 motorists received suspended sentences for driving under the influence. 1,648 of those were on April 14, the highest number for the 5-day period. The worst-offending provinces were Chaiyaphum, in the north-east of the country, with 290 drink-driving incidents, Chiang Rai in the north, with 264, and Buriram in the north-east, with 251.

“Defendants in 3,730 DUI cases had consumed alcohol, while in the other 11, offenders had taken narcotic substances. 19 defendants were ordered to wear electronic monitoring tags and banned from leaving home between 11pm and 4am for 15 days, while their driver’s licences have been suspended for 6 months.”

According to Witthawan, the court will order anyone showing signs of alcohol dependency during their probation to attend rehab. Nation Thailand reports that the Probation Department has deployed 439 volunteers, consisting of staff members and drink-driving offenders currently on probation, at 65 checkpoints around the country. They are tasked with supplying drivers with water and information leaflets on Covid-19 disease prevention measures.

This year, over 8 million vehicles travelled in and out of Bangkok during the Songkran holiday, despite most celebrations being cancelled nationwide due to the resurgence of the Covid-19 virus. And by day 5 of the holiday, in Thailand’s other, never-ending pandemic, the Kingdom had reported 1,795 road traffic accidents, with 1,818 injured and 192 fatalities.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

New red zone map shows where restrictions may apply after this afternoon’s CCSA meeting

Tim Newton

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New red zone map shows where restrictions may apply after this afternoon’s CCSA meeting | Thaiger

This new map is up for discussion today when the CCSA meets today. 18 provinces are to be designated as red zones. The amount of red zones may changes as well after this morning’s CCSA update on new infections. The CCSA will meet later this afternoon, chaired by the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

According to some early notes on the upgraded restrictions which are almost certainly going to be announced today, restaurants will be able to stay open until 9pm in the red provinces and until 11:00pm in the orange provinces. Bars, karaoke bars, massage places, must not sell liquor and cannot drink in restaurants in every province. Schools will stay closed.

The map cuts a red swathe through the north east, and the north west areas of the country, and some provinces around Bangkok, including Bangkok,.

The red zones, as of now, include…
1. Bangkok
2. Chiang Mai
3. Chon Buri
4. Samut Prakan
5. Prachuap Khiri Kan
6. Samut Sakhon
7. Pathum Thani
8. Nakhon Pathom
9. Phuket
10. Nakhon Ratchasima
11. Nonthaburi
12. Songkhla
13. Tak
14. Udon Thani
15. Suphanburi
16. Sa Kaeo
17. Rayong
18. Khon Kaen

The list of red zones may be updated after this morning’s CCSA meeting, and in coming days. The list of restrictions applied may also vary across provinces. Governors have a certain level of flexibility when applying and enforcing restrictions.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s mercurial Public Health Minister says he is “confident” the Kingdom can overcome the current Covid-19 crisis without imposing a nationwide lockdowns.

“We have seen no point in imposing a lockdown” for the time being.

He says that the current cycle of the new infections has only been 2 weeks and the Health Ministry has had good cooperation from all stakeholders.

“What we need to see now is less mobility. If we can do it, we will definitely see a declining number of new covid-19 infections by next month.”

NOTE: These zonings and list of possible restrictions are NOT final until announcements made following this afternoon’s CCSA meeting.

New red zone map shows where restrictions may apply after this afternoon's CCSA meeting | News by Thaiger

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