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Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine on the way to Thailand | February 9

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Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine on the way to Thailand | February 9 | The Thaiger

 

The Criminal Court has rejected a bid by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to remove a piece of online footage that criticises the government’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout, or more precisely the lack of a Covid-19 vaccine roll out. The former leader of the Future Forward Party, Thanathorn, took to Facebook to live stream his thoughts on the government’s handling of the national vaccination programme, criticising officials for procurement decisions and referencing the Thai Monarchy.

Thai firm Siam Bioscience, owned by the Crown Property Bureau, has been given sole rights to manufacture the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine in the Kingdom. Production is expected to begin in mid-2021. But the government had attempted to use the country’s strict lèse majesté law as grounds to remove Thanathorn’s footage and silence the opposition political voice.

However, in its ruling, the court says most of Thananthorn’s criticism was directed at the government’s handling of the vaccine rollout, with little mention of Siam Bioscience. As such, the video could not be considered a violation of the lèse majesté laws or a threat to national security. The finding comes following Thananthorn’s appeal of an earlier ruling that saw the livestream removed from Facebook. The opposition politician has come under fire from staunch royalists, who accuse him of dragging the Monarchy into the debate on Thailand’s vaccine policies and actions.

Not that it’s going to much current comfort to the local hotels and tourist industry right now, but the Thai capital, Bangkok, and the southern island of Phuket have come in at number 8 and number 14 respectively, in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards 2021. The awards list the most popular worldwide destinations prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and the places people most want to return to once travel opens up again.

According to a press release from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the awards look at the quality and quantity of reviews and ratings on TripAdvisor, when determining who makes the grade. Reviews of accommodation, restaurants, and attractions are all taken into consideration.

For the 2021 awards, TripAdvisor looked at reviews and ratings from December 1, 2019 to November 30, 2020. As well as looking at where people travelled to while they still could, the awards also take into consideration the places people dreamed of visiting while the pandemic prevented them from doing so.

Bangkok still remains popular, combining the modern with the historic, with improved public transport networks. A new extension to the Blue Line underground takes passengers to Rattanakosin Island, home to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, while the capital also boasts an increasing number of Michelin-starred restaurants in addition to its famous street food.

Meanwhile, Phuket’s beaches remain a draw for many international tourists who dream of returning. The awards point out that the island has over 30 sandy beaches to choose from, with a huge selection of hotels and other accommodation providers. The island’s tourism industry has been decimated by the ongoing pandemic, but it seems travellers still have the island in their sights once travel re-opens.

The Acting Chinese Ambassador to Thailand has confirmed that vaccine manufacturer Sinovac Biotech is ready to export its Covid-19 jab to Thailand. Speaking to the PM today, the manufacturer confirmed the vaccine has been approved for export to the Kingdom. But the exact date when Thailand can expect to receive the vaccine has not been confirmed, but the media release did say… “as soon as possible”.

The Thai government has come in for criticism from some corners for being slow to roll out a national vaccination program. In neighbouring Indonesia, the national vaccine rollout began in January, while in Singapore, the first vaccinations were administered at the end of December.

During his call with the manufacturer, the PM confirmed Thailand’s commitment to a national vaccine rollout in which at least half the population will be vaccinated. The government has already ordered 2 million doses of the Sinovac Biotech vaccine, along with 26 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and a further 35 million doses reserved.

In Neighbouring Myanmar, anti-coup protesters continue to defy warnings from the country’s generals and are into their fourth straight day of demonstrations. All this while the military, now back in control after a decade of pseudo-civilian government, imposed bans on gatherings at key sites.

Coup and army leader General Min Aung Hlaing made a televised speech last night to justify seizing power, accompanied by a statement from the military saying that clear action would soon be taken against the demonstrators.

Protests continued again today, especially around the largest city Yangon, including near the HQ of the National League for Democracy, the party of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was arrested early last Monday during the coup.

In last night’s address the Burmese General insisted the seizure of power was justified because of “voter fraud”.

The NLD won last November’s national elections by a landslide, a huge landslide, but the military never accepted the legitimacy of the vote, only getting 7% of the votes cast.

The country’s Election Commission dismissed the grumbling of the generals just days before the February 1 coup. Myanmar is now under a 1 year State of Emergency.

Just to finish today’s news we’d like to acknowledge yesterday’s unpleasant anniversary…. Exactly one year since a Royal Thai Army soldier shot and killed 31 people and injured and 58… some of them still suffering their injuries from the incident.

The 32 year old gunman went on a rampage at his army camp before heading to the Korat Terminal 21 and shooting at civilians. He was eventually shot and killed at 9am the next morning.

After the shooting, the then-army chief Apirat Kongsompong vowed to reform the military’s business and “bring back transparency and accountability.” No such reforms appear to have happened.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Timmytime

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    The Astra Z vaccine for the elite and the CCP witch brew for the rest. I hope the thai population is ready to become guinea pigs soon for the CCP vaccine. But before that their most likely will be many many more delays and save my face excuses from the bottomless incompetent useless corrupt government.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 6:54 pm

      What uninformed, baseless rubbish.

      The Sinovac vaccine has already been extensively trialled elsewhere and proven at least as effective at preventing serious effects, hospitalisation and deaths from Covid as effectively as any other, and better than some, and the AZ vaccine (from India) will be distributed in parallel.

  2. Avatar

    Wayne C

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 9:59 pm

    I find it utterly ridiculous that a government that doesn’t trust a vaccine that is over 90% effectiveness.
    Would administer 2 million doses of the Chinese vaccine that is 50% effective and have any confidence in it.
    Especially when the government demands over 100% effectiveness to have any confidence in it to open up tourism.

  3. Avatar

    Edward

    Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    Let’s be clear. Up until now it has taken years to test a new vaccine for safety and effectiveness and every one of these Covid vaccines are still IN the testing phase. Anyone taking one of these vaccines is participating in the testing phase and is in fact a human guinea pig. People should be made aware of this and know the risks before being urged to take any medical treatment. This is called Informed Consent.

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Koh Samui

Blackout on Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan after navy ship anchor damages underwater cable

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Blackout on Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan after navy ship anchor damages underwater cable | The Thaiger
Photo via Facebook/โฆษกกองทัพเรือ (Royal Thai Navy spokesperson)

A widespread blackout swept over Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan after a Thai navy ship anchor dropped on an underwater cable which supplies power to the islands in the Gulf of Thailand off the Surat Thani coast.

The 115kv cable runs from Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Khanom district to Koh Samui. The anchor damaged the cable about 2 kilometres out from the island, blacking out the tambons Bo Phut, Mae Nam and Maret, the Provincial Electricity Authority district manager Jakkrit Meedet told the Bangkok Post. The repair will take several days.

On the PEA Koh Samui Facebook page, the authority said electricity supply will be circulated for 1 hour per area and outage for 3 hours per area. Additional power generators are being sent to the island today. The authority is still supplying electricity to hospitals on the islands.

Apparently a similar incident happened back in 2018, Jakkrit says, and 6 mobile power-generating trucks were used to supply electricity to the island.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Facebook

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

AstraZeneca rollout confirmed for Thursday, with PM first in line

Maya Taylor

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AstraZeneca rollout confirmed for Thursday, with PM first in line | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

First, there was the unexpected arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine on the same day Thailand took delivery of the Chinese one. Then there was the announcement that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was too old for China’s Sinovac jab and would get the AstraZeneca one instead. And then there was the delay to the PM’s inoculation, blamed on paperwork that was missing from the AstraZeneca shipment. Now, finally, the rollout of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab is scheduled for Thursday and the PM will be first in line.

The Bangkok Post reports that Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has confirmed that quality checks on the 117,000 AstraZeneca doses are nearly complete and the PM will be vaccinated this week.

“(The rollout of) AstraZeneca vaccines in Thailand will take place on March 11 at the earliest, with the PM to be the first to receive the vaccine.”

According to Anutin, a number of senior politicians, including the foreign affairs minister and the acting education minister, have requested the AstraZeneca jab. Those over the age of 60 are being prioritised, while younger people will receive the Chinese vaccine, whose efficacy and safety have not been tested in those over 60.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister adds that China has asked for Thailand’s help in inoculating 200,000 Chinese citizens living in the Kingdom. Beijing has also floated the idea of making Thailand a regional vaccination centre for Chinese people living in the ASEAN region and says it will provide the necessary vaccines for free.

Thailand’s Public Health Ministry has confirmed it will issue vaccination certificates to everyone who receives the required 2 doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. Apisamai Srirangson from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration says such certificates have been approved by the World Health Organisation and can be used in the future to obtain a vaccine passport.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Economic think-tank says the future of tourism in Thailand hangs on vaccination

Maya Taylor

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Economic think-tank says the future of tourism in Thailand hangs on vaccination | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

The research division of Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank says everything hangs on vaccination strategies, both here and abroad. Kevalin Wangpichayasuk from the Kasikorn Research Centre says the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines globally will have a significant impact on the recovery of tourism in the Kingdom, with 2 million foreign tourists expected to arrive in the last quarter of the year. However, she points out that this is a huge drop from tourism’s hey day and the country will still be heavily reliant on the domestic market.

“Thailand’s path to economic recovery will mostly depend on the tourism industry (outlook) as to when the country will reopen for foreign tourist arrivals. The Covid-19 vaccines and the (re-opening) policy of each country will have a significant impact on the recovery of Thailand’s tourism industry in 2021.”

According to a Bangkok Post report, Kevalin says the rollout of vaccines in countries from where most visitors to Thailand originate, coupled with the administration of vaccines in the Kingdom, will be instrumental in how quickly tourism recovers. Specifically, the revival of foreign tourism hinges on vaccine rollouts in 10 countries, including China, Japan, the US, and several European nations, as well as the progress of the Thai government’s Covid-19 vaccine programme.

“Other crucial factors are whether Thailand’s quarantine period is reduced, the clarity of vaccine passport policy, and if countries would allow their citizens to travel to Thailand.”

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has announced that the mandatory quarantine period may be reduced for vaccinated arrivals from October. The proposal will go to the CCSA board, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, on Monday.

Last year, Thailand welcomed just 6.7 foreign visitors, a year-on-year decline of over 83%. In January, the number of international tourists was 7,694, a massive year-on-year drop of 99.8%. The current mandatory quarantine of 14 days is widely seen as the most significant obstacle in the battle to revive the sector.

The Kasikorn Research Centre says the Kingdom’s GDP is expected to grow by 2.6% in 2021, primarily due to a recovery in exports, various economic stimulus measures, and Covid-19 containment measures being less severe than last year. However, the think-tank warns that should the number of foreign visitors not reach the expected 2 million, that growth forecast could drop.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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