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DNA samples to be sought of all Koh Tao residents

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DNA samples to be sought of all Koh Tao residents
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Police are collecting DNA samples of all people on Koh Tao, an island off Surat Thani province, in a bid to find the murderers of two British tourists.

“We are getting closer to solving this case,” Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said yesterday, “Now, we know for sure that the culprits are Asians”.

The bodies of the two Britons were found on the island’s beach early Monday last week.

Prawit, however, declined to give any specific timeframe for the arrest of the culprits.

“We have already dispatched experts from all relevant fields to the crime scene. They are doing their best,” he said.

The brutal killings of the tourists have made headlines in both local and international media. Evidence suggests that the female victim was sexually violated.

The Office of Police Forensic Science chief, Lt-General Kamrop Panyakaew, disclosed that a unit under his office’s supervision had been assigned to collect DNA samples of all people on Koh Tao.

This move is in addition to the collection of DNA samples from 30 suspects earlier.

“We will submit one set of DNA samples and wait for their results before collecting another set of samples. We will do this until we find the culprits,” Colonel Chaiyasak Uakrissadathikarn, the deputy chief of the local forensic science unit, said.

Provincial Police Region 8 chief Lt-General Panya Mamen has now also ordered police to trace workers on fishing trawlers who had stopped by on Koh Tao on the day of the crime, according to Chumphon police chief Maj-General Suttinat Sudyod.

Koh Tao is also near Chumphon province. According to Suttinat, police are looking for possible clues from coastal fishermen’s villages and fishing trawlers’ crewmen, too.

More than 50 marine policemen used speedboats to check fishing trawlers in the area yesterday.

Surat Thani Police Station superintendent Colonel Paisal Sangthep admitted that the Bt200,000 bounty had not attracted any tip-off yet.

“If you have useful information, please come forward,” he said.

An informed source said police were in the process of questioning two suspects. One of them is a Thai while the other is a migrant worker.

Entrepreneurs on Koh Tao are now being asked to increase lighting and install CCTV to help boost safety on the island.

DNA tests will be done in Singapore
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Semen found on the body of one of the two British tourists murdered on Koh Tao in Surat Thani province last Sunday will be examined in a Singapore laboratory, national police chief General Somyot Poompanmoung said yesterday.

Somyot said the DNA test would be able to identify the race, hair colour and skin colour of the person, which would help with the police investigation.

It is understood cigarette butts found at the crime scene will also be sent to Singapore for DNA analysis, although Somyot did not mention the butts in his remarks to reporters yesterday during a visit to the island.

Somyot had earlier said the authorities would ask the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct the test, as the police’s Institute of Forensic Medicine’s DNA test was capable of only identifying the sex.

He said police had clues that pointed to the perpetrators of the crime being Asian men and he was “confident” they remained on the island in the Gulf of Thailand. Surveillance camera footage obtained one day after the brutal slayings showed an Asian-looking man running from the scene.

Somyot was speaking on Koh Tao, where police investigators simulated the crime using a few scenarios.

They were: the attackers followed the victims from a bar; the attackers randomly selected them after spotting them walking; with police following the route they suspect the attackers took before they killed the victims on the beach.

Somyot said police were trying to pinpoint how long the attackers were at the scene based on cigarettes that were discarded there. Police found, through DNA analysis, that one of the cigarette butts was smoked by two people, and semen from both men was found in the female victim’s body.

Somyot said a theory had been established about another possible weapon used in the murder apart from a blood-stained garden hoe found near the crime scene. The theory centred on the weapon being returned from where it was taken from in a hurried manner.

Three musicians played at beach

The general said surveillance camera footage of all travellers coming onto the island and leaving it in the days leading up to last Sunday was being examined.

DNA samples had been collected from 12 suspects and another 30 people who were potential suspects.

Somyot said migrant workers and Thai residents lived near the crime scene, including three musicians of unknown nationality who were playing on Chor Por Ror beach, where the crime took place, on the night of the murders. Police had not excluded there being other potential suspects, whom he said could be anyone including Thai residents or tourists staying on the island.

Somyot offered a Bt100,000 reward, which is on top of the Bt100,000 bounty offered by Koh Kao residents and tour operators on the island, for information leading to the arrest of the killers.

Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday issued a letter of condolence to his British counterpart David Cameron and the families of victims, Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, both aged 24.

He vowed to closely coordinate with the British authorities and the British embassy about the hunt for the killers.

Prayuth had earlier apologised over his controversial bikini comments in the wake of the murders. He suggested women in bikinis could be more vulnerable to attack.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai government expects to open vaccine registration to foreigners by August

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash

A Health Ministry spokesperson has confirmed that foreigners living in Thailand should be able to register for Covid-19 vaccination by August. Ratchada Thanadirek says the government is working on a dedicated registration platform for foreign nationals living in the Kingdom, which it’s hoped will be ready in 3 months’ time.

Meanwhile, Thai Visa News reports that vaccine registration for Thais has been extended to those aged between 18 and 59 years old, who can now sign up from May 31. Registration had initially been limited to Thai nationals over the age of 60, as well as those with underlying health conditions. However, the third wave of the virus means registration for younger Thais has been brought forward from July.

Thai nationals can register for vaccination through the Mor Prom platform or the Mor Prom Line account. They can also register at government hospitals. According to Ratchada, the vaccines that will be used in the government rollout will primarily be AstraZeneca, manufactured in-country by Siam Bioscience.

However, she points out that there are 3 other vaccines that have been approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration. They are the Chinese-made Sinovac, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and the vaccine from US manufacturer, Moderna. The latter is expected to be available for purchase at private hospitals, although there has been no confirmation of when supplies might arrive.

SOURCE: Thai Visa News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Some Covid-19 restrictions relaxed across Thailand, fewer “dark red” provinces

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Facebook/PR Thai Government

The Thai government has relaxed some Covid-19 restrictions across the country, while downgrading the risk level of a number of provinces. The number of provinces designated as “strictly controlled” areas, or “dark red” zones, has been reduced from 6 to 4. They are Bangkok and the central provinces of Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan.

So, what, if anything, has changed where you are? Below is a summary of the situation across the country, courtesy of TAT News.

The “red zone” or “maximum control” areas now consist of the following 17 provinces:

Central Thailand: Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ratchaburi, and Samut Sakhon

Eastern Thailand: Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, and Rayong

Northern Thailand: Tak

Southern Thailand: Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Ranong, Songkhla, Surat Thani, and Yala.

There are now 56 provinces designated as “orange” or “controlled areas”, up from 26. They are as follows:

Central Thailand: Ang Thong, Chai Nat, Lop Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Samut Songkhram, Saraburi, Sing Buri, and Suphan Buri

Eastern Thailand: Chanthaburi, Prachin Buri, Sa Kaeo, and Trat

Northern Thailand: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Nakhon Sawan, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Sukhothai, Uthai Thani, and Uttaradit

North-Eastern Thailand: Amnat Charoen, Bueng Kan, Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Loei, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, and Yasothon

Southern Thailand: Chumphon, Krabi, Pattani, Phang Nga, Phatthalung, Phuket, Satun, and Trang.

Restaurants across the country can now resume in-house dining, with various restrictions based on their risk status. In the dark red zones, dining in is permitted until 9pm, with take away service allowed until 11pm. In red zones, dining in has been extended to 11pm. In orange zones, dining-in hours can return to normal. Of note, however, is that the ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in restaurants remains in force across the country.

All other disease prevention measures remain in place, including mandatory mask-wearing outside of the home and the closure of “high risk” venues such as nightclubs, bars, karaoke bars, and massage parlours. Department stores, shopping malls and community malls must close by 9pm and refrain from holding promotional activities.

In dark red zones, there is a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people, with this number extended to 50 people in red and orange zones. In Phuket, an orange zone, officials have stipulated a ban on people visiting each other’s homes, with only those residing at a property permitted to be there.

In dark red and red provinces, convenience stores and markets can only open between 4am and 11pm, while they can return to normal operating hours in orange zones. In addition, people in dark red zones are urged to cancel interprovincial travel or to submit to strict health screening. Businesses in the private sector are asked to allow employees work from home if possible.

SOURCE: TAT News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths

Tim Newton

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Today the public health department has reported 3,394 new cases and 29 new Covid-related deaths. 1,498 of today’s cases come from Thailand’s prisons (more below). Taking the shameful inmate toll out of the equation and the trend is still steady with around 2,000 – 2,500 new cases each day over the past 3 weeks across Thailand.

Around the world the trends for new infections and deaths are starting to fall quite quickly.

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths | News by Thaiger

• Roll up, roll up your sleeves. But the Thai PM says… hold on! PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has poured cold water on walk-in vaccination centres for Covid vaccinations. In the past week the public health department has been rushing to set up private vaccination locations around the country to hasten the roll out of vaccines for the first public vaccine category next month.

PM Prayut told a cabinet meeting yesterday he didn’t prefer the idea of the walk-in centres (Central Lad Phrao was already to open as yesterday) because “people would turn up in droves causing chaos”. He was particularly worried about centre around Bangkok where there is a population of 8 million+

The PM has asked that the Mor Prom app is working properly with registrations preferred so the Government can monitor the demand and act accordingly. The government says they’re working on an English, and other languages, version of Mor Prom to open registration for non-Thais soon.

• The Department of Corrections reports that there are now 11,670 prisoners infected with Covid in 13 prisons across Thailand.

• A major Japanese medical association is calling on Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee to cancel the 2020 Tokyo Games. The Games are set to start on July 23.

The appeal, made in a letter to Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga and comes amid concerns that the health-care system in Asia’s second-largest economy cannot accommodate both the potential medical needs of thousands of international athletes, coaches and media while fighting yet another spike in coronavirus infections.

• The Chon Buri (including Pattaya) public health officials announced 39 new and confirmed cases of Covid and 1 more death today. According to The Pattaya News, “officials are asking for the public to remain working from home if possible and especially to avoid small social gatherings with people who are not members of your own household until the situation improves”.

As usual we will have an update of all the provincial totals this afternoon.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | FRB

 

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