Thailand News Today | Samui and Phuket request 1 million vaccines, Covid update | March 23


401 new Covid-19 cases and 1 new death have been reported today. Most of the cases were at an immigration detention centre in Bangkok’s Bang Khen district. Thailand currently has 1,419 active Covid-19 infections. A total of 92 deaths have now been recorded as a result of the coronavirus.

A 75 year old Thai man in Bangkok died after testing positive. He had an underlying heart condition, high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Out of the 401 new Covid infections, 337 were detected through active case finding, including 318 cases at the Bang Khen immigrant detention centre. 46 cases were local transmissions and 18 were detected in quarantine from people arriving back in Thailand.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand has condemned the shooting of reporters at an anti-government protest in Bangkok on Saturday evening. The protest, that started around the Sanam Luang adjacent to the Grand Palace, ended with at least 33 people injured, including 3 reporters.

The Foreign Correspondents statement referred to UN guidelines that say rubber bullets should only ever be a last resort and should always be aimed at the lower body and never the head. It’s understood one of the reporters working at the protest had to be hospitalised for a head scan after he was allegedly hit in the head by a rubber bullet

They’ve also expressed concern over tactics employed by police on the night, including the use of tear gas and the high powered water cannon. The club has also called on the authorities to acknowledge that reporters doing their job should not become police targets.

Phuket is expected to present a reopening plan for approval that would allow vaccinated tourists visit without undergoing quarantine starting in July. The plan will be submitted to the Centre for Economic Situation Administration this Friday. It’s the latest in a long line of ‘plans’ and ‘models’ that have been unleashed by the local tourism association.

The governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand says the Phuket Tourism Sandbox plan can only be successful if the Andaman island achieves herd immunity by vaccinating at least 70% of its population before letting in visitors.

So, the plan also includes how many doses of the vaccine the island would need as well as a timeline of administering them. To reach the immunity goal within the time frame, Phuket should start the first round of vaccinations by April 15, followed by the second from May 15 onward.

Over in the Gulf of Thailand, the president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, says Koh Samui will introduce sealed routes to international tourists that keep them away from residents. Both vaccinated and non-vaccinated tourists will be required to stay in their hotel rooms for the first 2 or 3 days and get a swab test on the second day.

Both plans are subject to government approval at this stage. Meanwhile,the southern resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui have made official requests to the Public Health Ministry for enough doses to vaccinate the majority of the islands’ residents in anticipation of a return to some semblance of tourism.

Private businesses in Phuket have made a formal request for 900,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Public Health Minister. In addition to request for the the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Minister had already allocated doses of the Sinovac vaccine – 100,000 doses for Phuket and 50,000 for Koh Samui.

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