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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Firebombs at Bangkok rally; Hospital warns thieves drug patients; Chiang Mai quake; Flood defenses down

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Firebombs at Bangkok rally; Hospital warns thieves drug patients; Chiang Mai quake; Flood defenses down | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Patients robbed after thieves spike water with animal sedative
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: “Watch out!” the Public Health Ministry is warning all hospital users nationwide, after the recent sedation of a number of patients at major Bangkok hospitals when they unwittingly ingested a dangerous drug.

Hospitals around the country have been urged to tighten security measures to prevent a gang of thieves suspected of having stolen patients’ belongings – as well as the property of visiting relatives – after offering them “doctored” water that renders them unconscious.

The warning comes after the Medical Services Department (MSD) received a report from Ramathibodi Hospital that members of a gang had lured patients and their relatives in the outpatients’ ward into drinking water that they were offering “as a gesture of hospitality”.

However, the water had been mixed with the colourless and odourless sedative and muscle relaxant Xylazine and, after the victims fell unconscious from drinking the toxic liquid, the robbers stole their property.

The MSD said that use of the drug – generally administered by veterinarians for sedating and anaesthetising animals – could place a patient or other human user at risk of death.

Phayathai police investigator Pol Lt-Colonel Banyong Dammankong yesterday said that since the beginning of the month, at least three people had reported being robbed in this way at three hospitals: Ramathibodi, Priest and Rajavithi. After investigating a suspected perpetrator who appeared on closed-circuit television at Ramathibodi Hospital, he has issued an arrest warrant for a 30-year-old man for theft of a patient’s property using such a method.

“This suspect had been pretending to offer hospitality and friendship to patients and their relatives, after which he would ask them to drink the mixed water to make them unconscious, before steal belongings such as mobile phones,” Banyong said.

The investigator said he had also sent a team of police to search for other gangs that might use the same method to rob people at other hospitals.

Meanwhile, MSD director-general Suphan Srithamma said he had instructed medical workers at state hospitals across the country to keep a close watch in outpatient wards for strangers who might be members of such a gang. “Patients who are not able to take care of themselves would be at [particular] risk of theft by these gangs,” he said.

Xylazine is a drug used for sedation, anaesthesia, muscle relaxation and analgesia in animals such as horses, cattle and other non-human mammals.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is registered and classified as a dangerous medicine. People are allowed to buy the drug without a doctor’s prescription, as it is intended for non-human use.

Generally, veterinarians inject Xylazine into an animal’s blood vessel. About five minutes after receiving the drug, the injected animal will become sedated and anaesthetised.

It will be under the influence of this drug for about 20 minutes, during which surgery can be performed.

Meanwhile, in humans, anyone taking the drug would become sleepy and develop a change in blood pressure. Affected people would breathe slowly and have high a level of sugar in their blood, as well as a very dry mouth.

To alleviate the toxin in the drug, anyone who ingests Xylazine is advised to see a doctor immediately and to take Yohimbine, which is used to increase peripheral blood flow.

Meanwhile, Ramathibodi Hospital has issued an announcement to warn patients and their relatives that there is a gang at large pretending to be medical staff, but intent of stealing their valuables.

They are urged not to receive food or water from any strangers, and not to leave their food and drink unattended.

In a development reported late yesterday, a Ramathibod Hospital official said the latest drugging incident had been reported during the morning.

“The victim is a hospital official,” she said. The incident took place in Building 1, but the victim did not lose any belongings, she said, without elaboration.

Quake leaves residents in Chiang Mai province shaken
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: An earthquake of 4.1 magnitude hit Chiang Mai’s Phrao district early yesterday, causing widespread panic among locals.

It was the biggest quake ever felt in the district.

“The earthquake was so powerful that we felt like a big truck had come crashing into our building,” said Phra Khru Preechapiwat, abbot of Thung Luang Temple. He is also in charge of the Phrao District Rescue Centre.

The incident did not kill or injure anybody and no damage was recorded as per the latest official survey.

Students take over rally at Urupong
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Student activists have taken over the anti-government rally at Urupong intersection, saying the protest will continue despite the Molotov cocktails that were hurled at their tents early yesterday morning.

Utai Yodmanee, president of Ramkhamhaeng University Students Organisation, announced yesterday that the rally at Urupong intersection would be led by his group called Students’ and People’s Network for Thailand’s Reform. He said there was no definite date for the protest to end, adding that he had a plan in place should the government decide to stretch the Internal Security Act to cover the protest venue.

On Thursday, members of the People’s Army to Overthrow Thaksin’s Regime decided to move out of the area surrounding Government House to relocate to Lumpini Park – a decision that made several participants unhappy. Then the group decided to start congregating near the Nang Lerng area before moving on to Urupong intersection, which is not covered by the ISA.

The ISA covers Dusit, Pom Prap Sattru Phai and Phra Nakhon districts at present.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnog blamed a “third party” for trying to stir trouble by hurling the explosives, adding that the ISA will continue in light of this attack. He added that he wasn’t considering expanding the scope of the ISA to Urupong intersection and that he was waiting for an official assessment of the situation.

Pracha said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has issued instructions that tight security measures be put in place for the duration of the Chinese PM’s visit.

At about 2am yesterday, several Molotov cocktails made in bottles of energy drinks were hurled at the protesters’ tents from a passing car. The attackers also threw down handbills reading “you make traffic jams, you should find a new area for your rally”.

The bombs damaged a taxicab and injured two guards. The protesters later installed a green net over the site to protect themselves.

Pracha said it was difficult to protect the rally site because it is located under an expressway, though the police are coordinating with the Expressway Authority of Thailand and have asked for CCTV camera footage to help hunt down the bombers.

Police said the bottle bombs were only filled with paraffin oil and didn’t contain any explosives so it was likely that the bombers only wanted to bully protesters.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

4 top tourist destinations to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine distribution

Maya Taylor

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4 top tourist destinations to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine distribution | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration says 4 of Thailand’s major tourism destinations are to be prioritised in the distribution of vaccines. They are Phuket, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai and Surat Thani. In addition, a further 9 provinces with significant infection numbers are being prioritised in the rollout of the first vaccine doses arriving in the Kingdom today.

Taweesin Visanuyothin from the CCSA says 70,000 doses will go to the hard-hit “highest control” area of Samut Sakhon, where Thailand’s second outbreak began late last year. 8,000 doses are being set aside for medical officials in the central province, along with 6,000 for frontline healthcare workers, 46,000 doses for seriously ill patients, and 10,000 doses for migrant workers and local residents.

Another 105,000 doses will be distributed to similar groups in Bangkok, in the central provinces of Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Songkram and Samut Prakan, and in the western province of Ratchaburi and the Mae Sot district of Tak.

The Pattaya News reports that 14,700 doses will be sent to 4 major tourist destinations, with 4,700 going to the eastern province of Chon Buri, 4,000 to the southern island of Phuket, 3,500 to the northern province of Chiang Mai, and 2,500 going to the island of Samui in the southern province of Surat Thani.

In the case of the vaccines going to tourism spots, it is not yet known which groups will be vaccinated first, with that decision being left to the Provincial Communicable Disease Committee and other related authorities.

Meanwhile, the CCSA says other plans for the 4 tourism destinations are being considered, including the possibility of “area quarantine”, which would allow vaccinated foreign arrivals to remain within certain boundaries during their quarantine period. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has been pushing for a vaccine passport policy for vaccinated visitors, while PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says the government may consider lifting quarantine restrictions for vaccinated tourists.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Thailand

UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions

The Thaiger

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UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions | The Thaiger

Which of the five coloured zones are you living in? A green zone? Red zone? Pale red zone? hat’s the difference and what’s open and what’s not? If you’re not in Samut Sakhon, the coastal province just south west of Bangkok, then some of the restrictions imposed by the CCSA have recently been lifted. Here’s a quick look at what’s open and what restrictions remain as of Friday, January 29. (Some local provincial exceptions will apply)

UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions | News by The Thaiger

According to the list there’s a Red Zone for Samut Sakhon, called a Maximum Controlled and Restricted Area, and then the light Red Zone, called a Maximum Controlled Area. Previous Red Zones – Rayong, Chon Buri (including Pattaya) and Chanthaburi – have been downgraded to Orange Zones, aka. Controlled Area. Trat, previously a Red Zone, has disappeared off the map! (An omission – we understand Trat is now an Orange Zone).

UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions | News by The Thaiger

In Samut Sakhon, the epicentre of the latest outbreak around the seafood markets and coastal fishing ports, has the maximum current restrictions. Restaurants can currently stay open only until 9pm at the moment, markets and hotels are still allowed to open.

UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions | News by The Thaiger

The ‘pale’ Red Zone includes Bangkok and now allows restaurants to stay open until 11pm but the serving of alcohol is still banned. Bars and karaoke bars are still required to remain closed. As is the ‘bull and cock-fighting rings’. Shopping Centres are being asked not to conduct promotional activities that would draw large crowds but are otherwise still open. The city’s schools are all open although some private institutions have decided to remain closed – check with your school to confirm. Gyms and boxing gyms are allowed to re-open.

UPDATE: Thailand Covid zones and your restrictions | News by The Thaiger

The Orange Zone includes Pattaya which now permits restaurants and bars to re-open until 11pm, including the serving of alcohol, but no dancing (damn!). Shopping Centres can open as per usual and residents in the Orange Zones are now allowed to travel across provincial borders again unhindered. All this will allow some of Pattaya’s entertainment establishments a sigh of relief as they were relying heavily on some weekend traffic from Bangkok to keep the wheels turning until the tourists are allowed back into the country.

The other 3 popular tourist zones of Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket have been in the Green Zone throughout the current month of restrictions and can operate much as they were before December last year. But domestic airlines have slashed their flights to these areas and the few flights remaining are asking higher fares than the pre-second wave prices.

Some of the provinces will still require you to carry the Mor Chana app on your phone and other provinces, eg. Phuket, have their bespoke websites to register where you are staying. If you don’t have a mobile phone the local officials usually just check you ID and ask a few questions about where you’ve been and get contact details if they need to get hold of you.

Of course, despite the latest list of eased restrictions and changes in the colour zoning, there will be some local variances and enforcement. Local provincial governments have been given the power to add additional restrictions in some cases.

GRAPHICS: Thai PBS World

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Air Pollution

Air pollution reaches “unhealthy” levels in Thailand’s north and northeast

The Thaiger

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Air pollution reaches “unhealthy” levels in Thailand’s north and northeast | The Thaiger

18 provinces in Thailand’s north and northeast are being hit by a wave of smoke and air pollution as the burning season kicks in for the country’s agricultural sector. The next 2 months are the peak of the burning off season for agricultural waste as farmers prepare their land for the next crops of corn, rice and sugar and use the fires to aid the harvest of some of their crops.

With sugar cane plantations, for example, farmers choose to burn the leaves off the plant, exposing the stalks, before harvesting the profit-making stalks, saving time and money. There are mechanical ways to achieve the same result but the farmers, pushed to slender profit margins by the multinational food companies, are unable to invest and amortise the additional costs.

The levels of PM 25 micron particulate, a measure of the smoke and haze, has been at “unhealthy” levels in Chiang Rai, Phrae, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Tak, Phetchabun, Phayao, Nan, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Khon Kaen, Roi Et, Chaiyaphum, Ubon Ratchathani, Saraburi, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom and Nakhon Ratchasima.

The Pollution Control Department are now openly admitting that the major cause of the seasonal smoke is “open burning by farmers who are preparing their land”, according to the Bangkok Post. On Monday the Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan issued orders to prevent farmers from starting the plantation fires. You can check the result of his orders in the fire map below.

Air pollution reaches

iqair.com measures the average level of PM2.5 dust in the North at between 35-85 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m³) yesterday, considered “unhealthy”. In the Northeast, the levels ranged between 40-99μg/m³.

The Thai Pollution Control Department considers PM2.5 readings below 50μg/m³ as “safe” but the Thai standard is twice as high as what is considered safe by the World Health Organisation.

firms.modaps, the NASA satellite fire tracking service, shows the number of fires currently alight around Thailand and the concentrations in the north and north east. The fires in northern Cambodia and north east Myanmar are also contributing to the Thailand’s smog and haze, depending on which way the winds are blowing. During this time of the year, the winds are predominantly north east and light across much of Thailand. The firms.modaps feed is live, registering the fires alight at the time the screen capture was taken.

Air pollution reaches

Bangkok starts off Wednesday with relatively better air quality than the past few weeks.

Air pollution reaches

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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