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Thailand News Today | Covid update, Bangkok restrictions, Gold rush | December 29

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All the latest updates about the Covid-19 situation in Thailand.

155 new Covid-19 infections were reported today in the daily briefing by the CCSA. The total count of confirmed cases in Thailand raised to 6,440 while the national death toll raised to 61 after a 45 year old man in Rayong, infected with Covid-19, died.

Thailand currently has 2,195 active Covid-19 cases, a record high. Out of the 155 new cases, only 10 cases are people in quarantine who travelled to Thailand from overseas.

12 new Covid-19 cases are linked to the seafood market in Samut Sakhon while 2 new cases are linked to the outbreak at an illegal gambling den in Rayong. 100 cases are under investigation.

At this stage there is still no talk of a nationwide lockdown but we acknowledge that things could change quickly.

• Following his claim that there was no illegal gambling den involved in a Covid-19 outbreak in Rayong, the provincial police chief Papatdet Katephan has been transferred. The order came from national police chief following the cluster of infections linked to an alleged illegal gambling venue. One of the infected gamblers has since died.

There were bizarre denials over the weekend as media reported “a gambling den that wasn’t a gambling den”, some sort of code from the police briefings on the matter that tried to deflect blame from the local police. Gambling, whilst officially illegal in Thailand, is popular and underground ‘dens’ and illegal casinos often survive and thrive under the noses of the local constabulary.

The national police chief has called an investigation into all illegal gambling establishments in the province.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has ordered a number of new restrictions to entertainment venues in the capital, with some being asked to close until January 4. The exception is bars and restaurants serving food and drinks. The establishments affected by the closure order include bars with hostesses, horse-racing venues, cockfighting arenas, and massage parlours. Pubs and restaurants serving food and drinks only can remain open provided they close by midnight.

The new restrictions are clearly aimed at Bangkok’s bar and bargirl scene with the BMA wanting to keep contact between customers and staff to a minimum, at least in the short-term.

With job losses and pay cuts brought on lockdowns and economic disruption, many Thais are lining up to sell their gold to bring in some cash.

Gold sales have surged this year, both buying and selling. Thais have sold gold jewelry, bars and medallions to get some quick cash for basic expenses. Chief executive officer of Thailand’s top gold grader YLG Bullion International says that gold is much easier to sell than land or condominiums.

He said… Thai people still have high stockpiles of gold, as the nation has been more of a net importer than exporter in the past.

The trend is expected to continue into 2021 as the coronavirus pandemic puts a strain on tourism and manufacturing industries.

Thailand’s Education Ministry says it plans to reduce the amount of time students have to spend in the classroom, in favour of more personal learning time. The initiative is part of a wider upgrade to the country’s education system and is expected to be implemented from the start of next year.

2020 has been a year of student-led protests, with Thailand’s youth railing against the establishment and calling for greater democracy and improvements to the country’s education system. Many say the system has failed them, citing widespread bullying and sexual harassment.

Thailand’s Education Minister says the upgrade to the country’s education system is part of ongoing improvement. He also announced an increase in the student free meal program for the next year.

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