Thailand News Today | Vaccine passports announced, hospital-dodgers to be prosecuted | April 21

The president of the Thai Hotels Association says many properties are now considering shutting down for the entire low season as a result of the Covid-19 resurgence. They claim that smaller hotels simply don’t necessarily have the resources of the larger chains and are struggling with cash flow and crippled by low tourist demand. They say many are considering shutting up shop between April and October or until demand resumes.

The THA chief says April’s occupancy rates are expected to plummet to single digits, as happened in January during the second wave of the virus. She adds that the level of business in the last 2 weeks of this month will determine whether or not many will close. There are now just 400,000 working in the hotel industry, a huge drop compared to just a few years ago.

They also called for the Thai government to speed up vaccines for people employed in tourism… well, join the queue.

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Thailand’s Health Ministry says it may prosecute a number of Covid-19 patients who refused to be treated at field hospitals. It’s understood the 74 patients, most of whom are from so-called “hi so” families in Bangkok, told officials that a stay in a field hospital would be “inconvenient”. The deputy public health minister says these patients demanded to stay at home instead, violating the communicable disease laws.

A spokesperson re-iterated today that every Covid-19 patient must be taken care of by medical personnel at a ministry medical facility, otherwise they violate the law. The ministry is considering taking legal action against those who have refused to follow ministry regulations.

They confirmed that the patients in question are from the Thong Lor cluster of infections linked to nightlife venues in the capital. They say the patients insisted they would only stay in private rooms in hospitals. They pointed to the case of the Thai actor Kom Chuanchen, saying that the celebrity initially only developed mild symptoms after testing positive but is now in intensive care with breathing problems.

The Thai government has confirmed it has adopted a vaccine passport scheme, to provide vaccinated residents with proof of Covid-19 inoculation. The vaccine passport will be an official document which can be used by vaccinated people travelling abroad. Details of the scheme have now been published in the Royal Gazette, making it official.

The Covid passport covers have text in English and Thai, bearing the department’s name and that of the Public Health Ministry. It carries the national emblem of Thailand and the wording, “Covid-19 Certificate of Vaccination”.

The vaccine passport also contains the owner’s name, as well as his or her national ID or passport number. The vaccine passport must be signed by an approved disease control official,… currently there’s only 6 such officials to sign the document around the country.

No details yet about who will issue the passports, if the clinic or hospital will do the paperwork, or even ho much it will cost.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha announced that he won’t be attending the ASEAN summit regarding Myanmar, but will send his Foreign Minister instead. The summit, to be held in Jakarta this Saturday will address the increasingly dangerous situation in Myanmar where fear is growing that the ongoing protests against the February 1 coup could descend into civil war.

The meeting will be the first of national leaders, minus PM Prayut, as previous discussion of Myanmar has been between foreign ministers. Myanmar’s army chief earlier said he would attend the Myanmar summit but currently appears that he will only be attending virtually online.

Indonesia, stepping into a peacekeeping middleman role Thailand had played in the past, has been pushing to quell the growing crisis. Thailand has not been forthcoming in any criticism of the current Burmese army chiefs instead saying that they hope the situation can be resolved peacefully.

A doctor at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University says 7 people developed temporary partial paralysis after receiving a Covid vaccine. The 7 were all inoculated with CoronaVac, the vaccine from Chinese manufacturer, Sinovac Biotech. All were in the east of the country, with 6 in Rayong and 1 in Chon Buri.

The condition of all 7 improved after they were given medication. The side-effects were reported to the Public Health Ministry, saying the adverse effects might have been caused by a particular batch of vaccines, as opposed to the vaccine itself. Those investigations are ongoing.

Meanwhile, another Chulalongkorn doctor warns that this third wave of the virus is proving highly contagious, with an increase in the number of seriously ill patients in intensive care.

Dr Opass Putcharoen says that a growing number of young people who test positive are developing pneumonia and respiratory symptoms. He says that in the first and second wave, patients at risk of serious illness would show those symptoms around 7 days after infection. In the current wave, severe symptoms are developing much faster. He urged the government to fast-track its vaccine rollout.

Police are warning about another bank deposit scam spreading in Thailand. Police are warning people to beware of an SMS message notifying you of a money deposit along with an attached link to see the money. So far plenty of people have fallen for the scam. Victims have filed police reports and shared their info to the media. Most of them received notification of 100,000-200,000 baht deposited into their account requiring, of course, your email and bank usernames. The victims received messages that the personal information was vital to avoid someone removing money from their accounts.

Bottomline, just ignore any SMS messages from your bank and, if you are concerned, go into a bank branch in person to check. Don’t open the link!

Finally, 1,458 new Covid-19 cases and 2 deaths were reported today by the CCSA, stabilising the recent upward spike of new infections since the outbreaks at nightlife venues in Bangkok. Since April 1, 17,780 Covid-19 cases and 16 deaths have been reported.

The 2 additional Covid-related deaths today were a 56 year old Thai woman from Bangkok, who also suffered from diabetes, and a 32 year old Thai man from Nonthaburi who had allergies and lung disease.

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