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Songkran travel okay to visit elderly relatives, not to party – Health Minister

Maya Taylor

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Songkran travel okay to visit elderly relatives, not to party – Health Minister | Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr/ the foreign photographer - ฝรั่งถ่

Despite rising Covid-19 infections in Bangkok and other provinces, Thailand’s Public Health Minister says people travelling from the affected provinces during the Songkran holiday will not have to quarantine.

“Although provinces have been divided into zones, designated by colours according to the infection rates, none will be locked down. People can still travel to other provinces without having to go into quarantine on arrival at their destination. Only people who have been infected with the virus, or are considered to be at high risk, will be quarantined.”

Anutin Charnvirakul’s reasoning is that travellers will primarily be returning home to seek blessings from elderly relatives. He’s calling on people to remain vigilant and not use the holiday as an excuse to party, pointing out that the latest infection clusters are the result of people doing just that.

Despite the minister’s reassurances that travel is safe, the north-eastern province of Buriram is taking matters into its own hands and enforcing 14 days’ quarantine on anyone arriving from the 5 red zone provinces – Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, and Nakhon Pathom. That requirement will be waived if they take a 600 baht rapid Covid-19 test and are found to be negative.

The Bangkok Post reports that Opas Karnkawinpong from the Department of Disease Control has warned of the need to adhere to disease prevention measures over the holiday. He says that while there is no ban on interprovincial travel, people taking part in traditional Songkran activities, such as merit-making and pouring water over Buddhist statues and on to the palms of the elderly, must do so in well-ventilated, outdoor areas, while wearing face masks and observing social distancing.

Meanwhile, representatives from the hospitality sector have criticised the latest round of restrictions imposed in Bangkok. Thanakorn Kuptajit from the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association has criticised the shutdown of nightlife venues in the Bangkok districts of Klong Toey, Watthana, and Bang Khae, arguing that businesses have already ordered in fresh food supplies and hired entertainers. Thaniwan Kulmongkol from the Thai Restaurant Association says the closing time of 9pm is unfair and is calling on PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to review the proposal.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    freebeer

    Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 10:14 am

    What Buriram is doing should be the standard in every province…

  2. Avatar

    thaihome

    Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    what precautions the province of Buriram is taking should be the gold standard for all province

  3. Avatar

    Mister Stretch

    Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    I’m staying put.

    No need to “celebrate” Songkran or catch a virus.

    I love these “representatives from the hospitality sector” that are complaining about restrictions.

    If the people and businesses they represent were compliant with non-spreading initiatives, we wouldn’t be looking at another possible wave from the irresponsible.

  4. Avatar

    t m jones

    Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    any comment on the fact that Richard Barrow barrow is saying that Bangkok is already a red zone and people going to nakhon ratchasima will have to quarantine for 14 days or is he spouting hot air .. thaiger ??

  5. Avatar

    J West

    Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 7:10 pm

    Agree. Isn’t the widespread OK of Songkran travel a weak imitation of Chinas Golden Week December 2019 where millions of infected Chinese spread across the world and spread the virus globally? The new variant is spreading fast. If it’s the elderly at the center of Songkran isn’t it rational to safeguard them by less exposure? Hate to rain on anyone’s parade but is this travel bomb really the smart thing to be doing to the provinces?

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide

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Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | Thaiger
PHOTO: 3 million Covid-19 deaths recorded around the world.

Today marks a grim milestone as the Covid-19 pandemic officially crosses 3 million deaths around the world, with outbreaks still surging in various parts of the world. Over a year into the pandemic, and we are currently seeing over 700,000 new infections and 12,000 deaths per day, with Brazil, India, and France facing growing crises.

The 3 million figure reflects official numbers, though many suspect that real totals could be much higher, pointing at government conspiracies and early deaths that were not attributed to Covid-19 when little was known about the novel coronavirus in the early days.

Still, the official number is overwhelming enough – equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine, or the state of Arkansas in the US, and larger than world cities like Lisbon, Caracas, Dubai, Manchester or Chicago. Imagine nearly one-third of the people in Bangkok wiped out, or the entire nation of Armenia or Jamaica.

Following a steep decline in both new infections and deaths at the start of this year, the graph is again in an upward trajectory, both in terms of new cases and deaths from Covid.

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | News by ThaigerThe World Health Organisation laments the dire condition of the world dealing with the pandemic after 16 months and so many opportunities to prevent the spread with basic safety precautions. Brazil has spiralled out of control, racking up 3,000 deaths a day, nearly 25% of all the Covid-19 deaths in the world in the past few weeks. New variants have been spreading like wildfire throughout Brazil as more dangerous strains have wriggled their way into countries around the world.

In India, the distribution of vaccines has been thwarted by swelling Covid-19 outbreaks and deaths. In New Dehli, 13,000 infections were reported in a day amongst the 29 million residents, but the city only has 178 ventilators available as of Wednesday.

Only 1.1% of the Indian populations has been vaccinated, and officials faced criticism of their vaccine exports while so many need jabs domestically. In Thailand, the percentage of people vaccinated is even lower.

700 million vaccines have been distributed worldwide, but they have been shipped disproportionately to the wealthier populations throughout the world. In rich countries, 1 in 4 people have been vaccinated, while in poor countries that number is less than 1 in 500. In fact, 87% of the vaccines distributed worldwide have been to wealthy nations, and the delays in India due to increasing Covid-19 deaths will not help close that gap for many months to come.

SOURCE: Sky

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals

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Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Artist rendering of a "hospitel" - a hotel converted to a hospital.

With the third wave of Covid-19 ripping through Thailand, hospitals are rapidly filling up and the Thai Hotels Association has proposed “hospitels” as a creative solution. The portmanteau of “hospital” and “hotel” is the THA’s brainchild for creating more space for the growing number of Covid-19 infections that require treatment or at least observation as Thailand hits record daily case numbers. The idea of turning hotels into temporary hospitals was promoted by association president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi this week.

“The move aims to reduce crowdedness at hospitals and promote continuous care for Covid-19 patients after new cases increased rapidly since late March.”

23 hotels have already registered to be hospitals, with 2,000 patients currently receiving treatment in the 4,900 available beds. The Ministry of Public Health laid out guidelines for hotels interested in participating. Hotels must have a minimum of 30 rooms and pass the alternative state quarantine evaluation. The ASQ-approved properties must have evidence of acknowledgement by the surrounding community to confirm their validity and eligibility. The hotel must be able and willing to take care of hospitalised patients for 5 to 7 days, even with no signs of symptom progression. Conversely, patients checking in must agree to stay in the hotel and be relatively self-sufficient.

Strict medical requirements must be met as well. Each patient must be provided with their own digital thermometer and pulse oximeter, and a portable x-ray machine must be available. The hotels must be staffed like hospitals, with at least one doctor, a clinical psychologist, a pharmacist, a radiologist, and an infection control nurse. There must also be one nurse per every 20 patients staying at the property.

This proposed solution might provide a welcomed supplement to the rudimentary field hospitals the Thai army has been hastily building to accommodate the influx of newly infected patients. While the quick work is commendable, some have hypothesized that at-risk foreigners may be ignoring calls to come forward for Covid-19 testing in part because being diagnosed may land them in these less-than-posh field hospitals for days on end. A more comfortable “hospitel” would allow infected foreigners to be treated in more pleasant surroundings thus encouraging them to come forward for testing.

SOURCE: National News Bureau and Nation Thailand

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break.

Tim Newton

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Bangkok is now a red zone. Government gives people today to get back from Songkran break. | Thaiger

…. before the next round of restrictions come into force at midnight tonight.

Bangkok and 17 other Thai provinces (there are 77 in total) are now declared maximum control areas. These “red zones” are the feature of the Thai Government’s new restrictions to get a grip on its rising Covid infection numbers since the start of April. The restrictions will last for at least 14 days.

From tonight, at midnight, some new restrictions are in force, not only in the red zones but every where else.

Think nightlife, think gatherings of more than 50 people, think restaurants. These are the area the government has generally targeted. The CCSA spokesperson yesterday, and the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, went out of their way to portray the new restrictions as NOT curfews and NOT lockdowns. But, if you live in a red zone province, including Bangkok, then the new set of restrictions are a lockdown in just about every sense without outright telling people to stay at home.

Everything will have to be closed from 11pm – 4am in the morning, including all convenience stores. Hope you’ve paid your Netflix subscription!

The government is also advising businesses in Bangkok, and other red zone provinces, to allow employees to work from home, or have adequate precautions in place if they need to work in the offices.

Unlike the last two outbreaks of Covid within Thailand, this cluster has emerged from the indulgences of Bangkok’s hi-sos, celebrity and look-at-me culture. The trendy clubs around Thong Lor and Ekkamai are the destination for people that want, or need, to be seen, including some politicians who have either ended up infected or knew someone in the club and pub scene and have had to self-isolate.

The late evening sojourns, with nary a care for masks or social distancing, small spaces, lots of people… it has proven the perfect breeding ground for a new Covid cluster.

Bangkok’s legendary shopping centres and community malls will have to shut their doors by 9pm, a situation now across the board for all Thai shopping centres including places like your local Tesco mall.

But convenience stores, supermarkets, community markets can stay open until 11pm.

At this stage people are being advised not to travel to Bangkok, or any other red zone province, for the next 2 week (after midnight tonight). The travel advisory isn’t an order at this stage, more of a hurry-up-and-get-back-from-your-holidays request.

Last weekend saw the mass exodus out of the city. The same return from the provinces is happening today and tomorrow. Even though the official Songkran holiday ran from Tuesday to Thursday this week, plenty of people have take the Mondays and Friday off last week to end up with an extended 9 day holiday. The government was hoping the longer Songkran break would be a boon for the shattered hospitality and tourism businesses. But last weekends sudden climb of new Covid infections caused some people to cancel or postpone their bookings.

The annual Songkran road toll, usually a national disgrace, was cut by over 50% this year due to the lack of traffic and people deciding to wait it out and catch up with their families later.

Thailand recorded 1,547 new infections around Thailand today, a slight drop from yesterdays’ 1,585 reported new cases. But the last 4 days have revealed the largest list of daily infections since the first case was detected in Thailand on January 13 last year, a 61 year old Chinese passenger on a flight from Wuhan to Suvarnabhumi – the first known case of the novel coronavirus outside of China.

2 leading police from the Thong Lor police station have already been sidelined into inactive posts, a face-saving measure to show the government were being pro-active in reacting to the sloppy enforcement (or non-existent enforcement) of Covid precautions in the district’s active nightlife. Officials are also tracking down the owners of the nightclubs and bars for potential prosecution, principally around Bangkok and in Phuket where parties, promoted and run by a group called ‘Kolour’ ended up becoming Covid spreader events.

Here’s a list of the red zone provinces.

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

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