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19 killed in tour bus crash

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community


Reuters/ Phuket Gazette

Nineteen people were killed and 23 were injured when a double-decker passenger bus caught fire after a collision in Saraburi, north of Bangkok.

An 18-wheel lorry crashed into the Bangkok-bound overnight bus on Mitraphab highway, one of Thailand’s busiest roads.

Most passengers, as well as the driver, were trapped in the crashed bus when it caught fire.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the crash.

The crash in Saraburi followed another tour bus crash in Phang Nga yesterday, which left 22 injured (story here).

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Economy

Thailand increases durian exports to China by 14% this year

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Thailand has exported 14% more durian to China in this year’s first quarter over the same period last year. The Trade Negotiations Department Director General says Thai durian auctions in the first quarter secured 186 million, making up 88% of the total amount of Thai durian exports to world markets.

Last year, Thailand exported US1.5 billion worth of durian to China, a 78% increase from 2019. China’s share accounted for 73% of total Thai durian exports to world markets. 18 countries have free trade agreements for fruit with Thailand. Thailand is actively exporting fresh fruit with its top buyers being Australia, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore. The most popular fruits are the national delicacy of durian, along with mango, mangosteen and longan.

Despite the increases in durian exports, farmers have been worried about Covid-19′s effect on the industry. Earlier in 2021 health authorities in China circulated a press release stating that imported cherries from Chile had been tested and found to have Covid-19 contamination. This statement prompted a huge drop in Chilean cherry prices. Thai growers are worried the same might happen to durian imports. As the seriousness of the Coronavirus in Thailand reaches new widespread levels, one instance of a durian container being linked to Covid-19 could spur a total ban on importing fruit from Thailand.

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SOURCE: MENAFN

 

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Bangkok

Hundreds of Thailand slums at risk of Covid-19 as many can’t afford to quarantine

Tanutam Thawan

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Stock photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis for Unsplash

Following the Covid-19 outbreak at the Khlong Toey slum neighbourhood in Bangkok, there have been more than 1,000 slum communities have been identified as having similar living conditions as the Khlong Toey slum, and are now communities at high risk advised to be under watch to prevent another outbreak.

The Social Development and Human Security Ministry’s Community Organisations Development Institute pinpointed 1,270 slum communities, saying that many are similar to Khlong Toey. Areas of top concern of a potential outbreak include the large community by Khlong Prem Prachakorn with more than 10,000 people as well as a community of around 5,000 to 10,000 people who live by the Yommarat Railway. Other slums of top concern include communities of more than 3,000 people in both the Ratchathewi and Wang Thong Lang districts.

Out of the slums pointed out by the institute, more than 200 residents in the 260 communities have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the institute’s deputy director Panthip Petchmak. 700 more people were ordered to quarantine due to close contact with an infected person.

But stay at home orders are a problem for many as starvation is more frightening than the virus and 90% of residents in the slum communities still need to leave for work each day to keep food on the table. The daily average income for those in the slums is around 120 to 150 baht.

The institute is now working with community-level organisations to provide food, water, and supplements to those in poor neighbourhoods in an effort to keep people at home, preventing the spread of Covid-19.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand removed from New York Times graphic on Pfizer vaccine

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Thailand removed from the list of Pfizer vaccine recipients. (via Wikimedia)

The New York Times removed Thailand from their infographic of countries that have imported the Pfizer vaccine after initial reports could not be confirmed. Pfizer denied that Thailand had made a deal to acquire jabs of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The early rumours of the deal sparked controversy in Thailand, as they were listed as having the jab available only for limited emergency use. Online, Thai people were furious, questioning why they don’t have any access to vaccines if Thailand was already stocking them. Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra railed against the government for their vaccine failure in an online Clubhouse forum. With Thai people up in arms, the report turned out to be false anyway.

The Associated Press had reported on April 1 that Thailand had approved 7 different vaccine brands, including Pfizer, after passing evaluations from Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. It was part of a story about Thailand shortening quarantine periods for people who had already been fully vaccinated by one of these 7 vaccines. A careful reading of the article though, suggests that these 7 approved vaccines are for people who were entering Thailand but had been vaccinated in other countries.

Thailand though has not approved or imported the Pfizer vaccine yet, much to the chagrin of millions waiting on the snail-paced rollout of widespread vaccination in the country as they currently experience a devastating third wave of Covid-19. The Sinovac jab is the main vaccine in use in Thailand now, with AstraZeneca being imported now and beginning to be produced locally by Siam Bioscience.

Johnson & Johnson has also been approved. Moderna is currently going through the approval process and other manufacturers such as Russia’s Sputnik V, China’s Sinopharm, and India’s Bharat Biotech are said to be working on the beginning paperwork towards approval.

The Secretary-General of the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that Thailand has now acquired the Pfizer vaccine and none have been imported yet, justifying the removal from the New York Times infographic map.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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