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Thailand News Today | 305 infections, No happy ending for massages, Phuket quarantine mooted | Jan 7

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Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon says his recent claim that there are no illegal gambling dens in Bangkok was all a misunderstanding. The nation’s favourite watch collector was forced to backtrack after the public scoffed at his claims.

The Minister of Misunderstandings said… “I didn’t mean that gambling dens do not exist. We all know that there are gambling dens, but it is the duty of police to eradicate these illicit activities.”

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an investigation into illegal gambling dens after a number of cases of Covid-19 have been linked to such venues. Yesterday, Bangkok police carried out 94 arrests at a location in the Chaeng Watthana area.

Police have also raided a gambling den in the Pinklao area after 2 employees tested positive for the virus while visiting Kanchanaburi, in western Thailand.

And whilst we’re on admitting mis-steps, we would like to quickly apologise for our report yesterday about 900 additional cases reported in Samut Sakhon.

The story of the new cases, which gained national media coverage and sparked panic, is actually old information that has already been included in reports, according to the Public Health Ministry.

The recent cases were said to be linked to a canned tuna factory in the province. The Thailand company, Pattaya Food Group, confirmed yesterday that some of their employees are infected with Covid-19. The ministry confirmed that 914 cases worked at the factory, which employs 3,000 people, but says the figures are old news.

The Nation and Thai PBS also misreported the sporty that was misquoted from a provincial health official.

As far as new Covid-19 cases for the past 24 hours, 305 new infections and another death have been reported today at the daily briefing. Thailand now has 5,048 active Covid-19 cases.

An 88 year old cancer patient who had recently travelled to Rayong died yesterday after testing positive for Covid-19. CCSA says the case is linked to a gambling den in the province and believes the man caught the virus from his son who had visited him on December 22.

In Samut Sakhon, 154 cases were reported. 109 of those cases were found in a proactive testing campaign after the outbreak at the seafood markets, which has affected thousands of migrant workers in the area.

Only essential travel is allowed to and from the 5 eastern “red zone” provinces under the highest level of control to contain the spread of Covid-19. The new travel restrictions for Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong, Trat and Chanthaburi were made official in the Royal Gazette.

More checkpoints will also be set up throughout the 5 provinces and screening procedures will be more stringent. Those who need to travel to and from the provinces need permission from local authorities. People passing through checkpoints must use the Mor Chana tracing application and have a temperature check.

Representatives of Thailand’s spa and massage parlour industry are pleading with the government to provide some form of tailored financial aid to offset the impact of the government’s restrictions and lockdowns. Yesterday, an association representing the industry submitted a letter to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also chairs the government’s Covid-19 task force.

They’ve pleaded with him to recognise the economic devastation facing spa and massage businesses that have been forced to close as a result of the latest outbreak. A spokesperson says despite obeying all the rules, the industry is being punished unfairly.

There are around 1,700 spa and massage businesses operating in Bangkok, with another 15,000 around the country. Thousands have been forced to shut up shop for good.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has repeated his pledge to vaccinate half the population for free in 2021. Thailand will take delivery of its first supply of China’s Covid-19 vaccine by the end of next month, with an initial 200,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine reserved. First in line will be healthcare workers and elderly people considered at high risk.

Following the initial delivery, a further 800,000 doses are expected to arrive in March, and another 1 million doses in April. The government has also reserved 26 million doses of the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca, in partnership with Oxford University in the UK.

The government’s also in advanced talks to procure an additional 35 million doses and has signed a technology transfer agreement with the firm to allow for local production in the Kingdom. Thai manufacturers, Siam Bioscience, hope to produce 200 million doses a year.

And people travelling to Phuket from a province classified as a “red zone” will face a 14 day quarantine, either at a facility or at a resident’s home… this from the provincial governor. But an official provincial order has not been issued yet and people can still enter Phuket without requiring quarantine.

If the restrictions are enacted, travellers coming from any of the 28 “red” provinces, including Bangkok, will be “asked” to undergo a Covid-19 swab test and will also have to pay 3,000 baht for each test, according to the Phuket public relations department.

But the statement says, at this time, people who enter the Phuket area by land, sea and air can enter as normal but will have intensive screening, and ask for everyone’s cooperation to install the Mor Chana application.”

There’s more information about that App and the 28 ‘at risk’ provinces at thethaiger.com

 

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