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Thailand News Today – Friday, June 12

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4 Thais repatriated from India found with Covid-19 today

Today the government announced 4 new cases of Covid-19, all were reported as repatriated Thai citizens from India.

All have been quarantined in Chon Buri and tested positive during their 14 day stay. All have been mostly asymptomatic.

India had the most Covid-19 cases in Asia with a total of 298,283 cases and ranked 4th globally, and rising. So far 2,445 Thai people had returned from India as part of the government’s repatriation program.

Thai doctors warn about the dangers of fashion braces

Those in Western countries don’t typically look back fondly on teenage years with a mouth full of braces and painful trips to the orthodontist. But in Thailand, having braces is seen as a symbol of wealth.

They’ve even become a fashion trend with many fake braces now being sold illegally. Thai doctors are warning about the risk of serious infection and death from fashion braces.

Doctors warn that many fake braces are made with toxic metal, such as cadmium, as well as mercury, arsenic and lead. 

The fake braces sell for around 1,400 baht at fake orthodontist clinics while actual braces from professional orthodontists are 50,000 baht+. 

Thailand talking “travel bubbles” with low-risk Covid-19 countries

Thailand is considering the idea of forming “travel bubbles” with countries that have demonstrated similar success in suppressing the Covid-19 virus.

The announcement comes as a number of nations, including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, China and New Zealand have expressed interest in forming a reciprocal travel pact with Thailand.

This would involve governments agreeing their citizens could travel back and forth between the countries within the “bubble”, without imposing conditions such as mandatory quarantine or self-isolation. The term “green lanes” has also been used to describe the reciprocal arrangements between low-risk countries.

Long road to recovery for Phuket property sector

The Vice-President of the Phuket Real Estate Association says there will be no quick bounce-back for the island’s property market, saying it will take at least 2 years for things to recover.

The owner of Boat Lagoon, says the fall-out has been particularly severe in Phuket because the province relies so heavily on tourism. And, for now, there are no tourists on the island except for a few interprovincial Thai tourists. The island’s airport was closed to all traffic on April 3 and has remained closed ever since.

Khun Boon says that about 70-80% of the province’s economy has traditionally been driven by tourism, leading to Phuket taking a much heavier hit than many other parts of the country. He suggests that one way the government might prevent this happening again would be to shift the focus away from tourism and rebrand Phuket as a medical and educational destination. 

Mr. Boon anticipates that any recovery will be driven initially by expat buyers from places like Singapore and Hong Kong, many of whom may wish to move because of the high cost of living in the former and the current political unrest in the latter. 

Alcohol association begs government for trial re-opening of bars

The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing Emergency Decree have caused immeasurable economic impact across the country, especially entertainment and nightlife venues. 

Although alcohol sales appear set to resume in restaurants next week, around 10,000 pubs, bars and entertainment venues nationwide – and their many casual staff – are struggling to survive after being shuttered for nearly 3 months, so the alcohol industry is asking the government to allow a trial reopening of the entertainment sector.

The government faces a quandary, since the entertainment sector has been a hotspot for potential contagion. In Phuket, the popular Bangla Road entertainment district became a Covid-19 hotzone and the host for most of the island’s infections.

The president of the Alcohol Beverage Business Association says the government should relax restrictions and run a trial reopening of hotel bars and restaurants’ alcohol service, to gauge whether the rest of the sector can safely resume operations.

Thai Health Minister Anutin takes to TikTok

TikTok Thailand says only 1% of its users are aged 45-55. Turns out one of them is Thailand’s mercurial Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul. Remember him?

He disappeared from Twitter after his comments about “dirty farang” in the early days of the Covid-19 crisis, where he accused foreigners of being the cause of the outbreak in Thailand. 

Now, he’s back, at least on TikTok. He’s posted a couple of videos on the site.

Anutin is believed to be the first prominent Thai politician to join the network (the rest of the Thai cabinet has so far resisted the temptation to follow Anutin’s lead).

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