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Thailand News Today | Deadly floods, Chiang Rai Covid cases, Mekong Forum | December 7

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Southern Thailand flood death toll: 24

At least 24 people have now been reported to have died due to flash floods in Southern Thailand following a week of heavy rain. 19 of the victims were in Nakhon Si Thammarat which was hit the hardest.

Today, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation reported 3 more deaths from flooding in the southern region. A woman drowned in Surat Thani and 2 women drowned in Songkhla.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is visiting Nakhon Si Thammarat today. Reports say that heavy rains in the province flooded more than 555,000 homes.

More rain is expected in Southern Thailand with isolated thunderstorms in the southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

New Year countdown events get the “okay,” but under strict health measures

Lockdowns, social distancing, face masks and lots and lots of hand sanitiser… this year has been different to say the least and counting down the last hours of 2020 in Thailand will be different as well.

New Year countdown events have been given the “okay,” but just as long as health and safety measures are in place, according to the CCSA.

After recent Covid-19 cases from those who illegally crossed the Thai-Myanmar border, evading the mandatory quarantine, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha told state agencies to step up precautions.

Those ‘precautions’ will likely involve restrictions on some of the traditional New Year events and at least official requests for people to gather more responsibly and wear face masks.

26 Covid-19 cases in Chiang Rai linked to Myanmar hotel

So far, 3 0 Covid-19 cases in Chiang Rai have been linked to the newly infamous 1G1-7 Hotel in the Myanmar border town Tachileik.

A Tachileik resident claims the coronavirus spread through prostitution at the establishment. Given the stories and social media from the establishment, it appears the resident is on the money.

Last week, 10 Thai women tested positive for Covid-19 last week after entering Chiang Rai illegally, evading immigration screening and mandatory 14 day quarantine. Some travelled to other provinces in Thailand, like Chiang Mai, central Thailand and Bangkok, before testing positive.

Some have confirmed they worked at the 1G1-7 Hotel. A 32 year old Chiang Mai who was a DJ at the venue recently tested positive in Chiang Mai after crossing the border into Chiang Rai illegally as well.

Along with the local transmission in Chiang Rai, health officials have recently reported local cases in Bangkok and Sing Buri. Officials are bracing themselves for more infections over the next week as health authorities are furiously tracking and tracing ‘at risk’ people.

In all, Thailand has 38 cases directly or indirectly linked to people returning from Tachilek was detected on Nov 24.

Online alcohol sales banned from today

That ban on sales of alcohol online kicks in today. Announced 3 months ago, the actual ban actually starts from today.

The Royal Thai Police and Public Health Ministry reminded us about the prohibition on the sale or advertising of alcoholic beverages through digital and social media channels.

“From Monday, December 7, the sale and advertisement of alcoholic beverages online will be prohibited. Direct selling, persuading consumers, introducing products or other related services via digital channels that enable sellers to complete a sale without meeting the buyer face to face is now banned.”

But the new prohibition doesn’t include paying for alcoholic beverages via electronic methods at stores, restaurants or establishments that serve alcohol.

New forum to tackle Mekong challenges

Following 2 decades of campaigns against the hydro-dams and water projects along the Mekong River, local civic groups and conservationists finally launched the “Mekong People’s Forum”.

200 people attended the forum including local villagers, conservationists, journalists, and representatives from the US and Australian embassies. The Chinese embassy, although invited, did not send anyone to attend the event

This is the first time the many conservation groups and activists have come together with a single forum to tackle the many challenges for the river. 11 dams have now been built upstream in Laos and China causing massive problems for the natural flow of the river downstream through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

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Thai PM is ready to work closely with the US President

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Thai PM is ready to work closely with the US President | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PM and US President

Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha sent a letter of congratulations to US resident Joe Biden. He says the Thai government is ready to work closely with the US government to promote cooperation in all aspects and all levels.

He also says that Thailand and the US have a long relationship that dates back over 200 years. And, as Thailand is the US’s longest standing ally in Asia, he hopes the US, under President Biden “will not turn its back on the country”.

He also called for cooperation between the 2 countries in handling the global pandemic together, saying “the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic has taught all countries a lesson and that the world is facing historic changes, with the most important thing being “for all of us is to come together face to face and to cooperate with one another”.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines will drop during mass inoculations: Thai virologist

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Efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines will drop during mass inoculations: Thai virologist | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siam Rath

Thai virologist Dr. Yong Poovorawan from Chulalongkorn University, has spoken about claims that the efficacy of every vaccine available today, including Covid-19 vaccines, tend to lower after being used in mass inoculations, compared to the findings from the laboratory during human testing trials.

He recommends that people should not rely solely on the vaccines alone because uncertainty will remain during the roll out phase of the new inoculations.

“The best way to protect themselves is to practice basic safety standards as we usually do today… wearing face masks all the time when going outside and in crowded venues, regularly washing hands, and maintain social distancing.”

On his Facebook page, Dr. Young cited the case of Hepatitis B vaccines that claimed between 94-95% efficacy. But after use on mass populations, its efficacy dropped to about 80%. He believes this trend will be the same as Covid-19 vaccines.

“Although the manufacturers claim the vaccines’ high efficacy, that is just the laboratory results. In practice, several variables may cause lower effectiveness of the vaccines.”

He also says that the real effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines, both the American from Pfizer and the Chinese from Sinopharm will be known soon after the populations of Israel and UAE have been inoculated in large numbers already.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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1.5 million Thais approaching poverty line

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1.5 million Thais approaching poverty line | The Thaiger

A new report by the World Bank has indicated that 1.5 million Thais are approaching the poverty line after Covid-19 ravaged the tourism-dependent economy. In 2020, the report says the poverty ratio in Thailand increased to 8.8%, compared with 2019’s figure of 6.2%.

The report is troubling as the Thai economy already passed rock bottom in the 2nd quarter of 2020, with the the 2nd wave of Covid hitting just before the year end. Now, as many provinces have essentially went into lockdown from domestic and foreign tourism, workers are out of jobs, whereas before, domestic tourism was serving as a way to help businesses survive.

The government stimulated the economy by spending the equivalent of 13% of the gross domestic product, but the World Bank is predicting it may take 2 more years for Thailand to return its economic situation to its pre-Covid state. But the news is not all bad as the World Bank expects the Thai GDP to grow by 4% this year, instead of declining by 6.5% last year.

Such reasoning is due to the expectations of the Covid-19 vaccine being rolled out, and global economic growth. But if the Covid-19 situation becomes more severe, the expected economic growth would decline to 2.4%. Political instability in Thailand is another risk factor as months of protests have shaken views on Thailand’s government, which has invoked the lese majeste defamation law on protesters who were criticising the Royal family. Human rights organisations have issued statements that condemned the government as it began charging minors with the law.

Today, Thailand reports 309 new cases of Covid-19, with 80 being locally transmitted. Most of the cases were due to active testing and 12 were from those already in quarantine. Thailand is expected to receive 50,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccinesby the first week of February. The shipment is part of the first lot of 26 million doses on the agreed purchase in October of last year.

SOURCE: TNA

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