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Thailand News Today – Wednesday, May 6

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Thailand News Today – Wednesday, May 6 | The Thaiger
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Thai PM warns Thais to ‘behave’

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is warning that unless people and businesses continue to adhere to social distancing rules, previously lifted restrictions could be reinstated.

The PM has already issued new guidelines on the sale of alcohol after chaotic scenes in supermarkets across the country following the lifting of the alcohol ban in all but a handful of provinces.

The PM says the government has now imposed limits on how much can be purchased in one visit, while reminding business owners that there continues to be restrictions on what time alcohol can be sold.

Today there’s also an alcohol ban for the Buddhist holiday, Visakha Bucha Day.

Only 1 new case, 1 new death today

The CSSA today reports 1 new coronavirus patient, a Thai masseuse, and one death, of an Australian hotel manager in the South.

The total of Covid-19 cases rose to 2,986 as the Buriram masseuse, aged 27, tested positive for the disease after returning from Russia and being quarantined.

The death toll rose to 55 with the case of a 69 year old Australian man who worked as the manager of a hotel in the southern province of Phang Nga.

Concerns in Pattaya over packed trucks transporting construction workers

Pattaya residents are sharing their concern about the conditions local construction workers are being transported, saying there is no social distancing being observed at all.

The Pattaya News reports about workers crammed onto packed trucks to be taken to and from sites in Pattaya and the wider Chon Buri area. Many of these workers are migrant labourers, already forced to live in very cramped quarters, where observing any form of social distancing is unlikely or impossible.

There were also concerns raised in Bangkok yesterday, when a delay with the BTS Skytrain service caused a backlog of commuters at stations. There’s now hundreds of shaming posts everyday of people sharing examples of bad social distancing practices.

1 million methamphetamine pills seized in Chiang Rai

Last night at around 8.30 pm Police officers from the Narcotics Suppression Division in Chiang Rai arrested a 27 year old called Atthachai.

The man was driving along the riverside bordering the Ban Rong area, in Mae Sai District before heading into the Chiang Rai city area.

The arresting officers were waiting for him following a tip-off and stopped the vehicle and searched the car. They found 5 sacks of methamphetamine pills found in the trunk, a total of just over 1 million methamphetamine pills, known locally as Yaba.

Prayut warns Thai Airways that the latest government bailout will be the last

The Thai PM has issued a stern warning to the executives of Thai Airways that the latest bailout and loan is the last from Thai taxpayers.

Last week the Finance Ministry agreed to guarantee a 54 billion baht bailout loan for the ailing airline and a further 80 billion baht recovery loan – both massive amounts of money being given to an airline that has been in debt for the last decade.

But the PM said… “This is the last time that Thai Airways will receive support from the government. If the situation worsens, there will be a complete structural overhaul of the airline.”

Prayut warned that the airline “must achieve 10 goals and not waste the government-backed loan”. Thai Airways posted a loss of 12 billion baht last year.

Visakha Bucha Day, Buddhist holiday

Today is a public holiday in Thailand to mark Visakha Bucha Day, the most significant day in the Buddhist calendar

The day commemorates three defining events in the life of the Lord Buddha; his birth, attaining enlightenment at 35 years old, and then his death 45 years later, which all, it is said, occurred on the full-moon day of the sixth lunar month.

 

Traditionally, Buddhists gather at temples to walk in circles three times around the main temple building with lighted candles. But this year the government has urged Buddhists not to gather together for this ritual and, instead, celebrate the event at home with family.

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Weather

Thailand’s monsoon and wet season explained

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Thailand’s monsoon and wet season explained | The Thaiger

Unlike much of the rest of the world, north and south of the equatorial regions with the four reliable seasons of winter, spring, summer and autumn, Thailand has just three seasons: hot, not-quite-so-hot and wet.

The rainy season is caused by the southwest monsoon that sweeps out of the Indian Ocean with moist air heading in a north-easterly direction across Thailand, sucked into the void left by rising warm air over the summer Asian continent. The monsoon also coincides with Thailand’s location in the Southeast Asian tropical rain belt – the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone.

The timing of the season isn’t the same around the country and isn’t the same every year although it is reasonably reliable. Chiang Mai does not have the same rainy season as the Gulf of Thailand islands. Koh Samui’s wet season is month’s after the islands on the other side of the peninsula.

The annual celebration of Songkran, the Thai New Year – April 13 – is usually timed to match the end of the hot season and the start of the annual wet season. But in most provinces the start of the monsoon is usually a month or so later.

Some places can be much wetter than others. Ranong, in the south of Thailand, just north of Phuket facing the Andaman Sea, is the wettest province in the country with a rainy season stretching from April to November. But the seaside resort of Hua Hin on the Gulf of Thailand only really has two particularly rainy months, September and October.

The strength and intensity of the rains vary greatly. But, generally, monsoon rains tend to be short, intense bursts of rainfall. They could last for a few hours in the middle of the day, but they could just as easily be over within about 15 minutes in the morning or evening.

The monsoons do little to stop the locals who plunge on despite the deluge and occasional floods. Help is never too far away with the 20 baht ‘poncho’ available at every 7 Eleven and Food Mart. Flimsy and available in a variety of non-fashion colours, they’ll keep at least some of your body dry if you’re caught out in a downpour.

It floods very easily in Thailand, such is the intensity and suddenness of the monsoonal rains. Bangkokians will just roll up their trousers, or hold onto their skirts, take their shoes off and wade through the floodwater – it’s just part of life when living in Thailand.

And the best thing is that the wet season rains are never icy cold and usually provide a nice respite from the heat. There’s also a drama and beauty of the Thai monsoons. Enjoy and celebrate the annual rains that provide water for the crops and fill up the dams.

Thailand's monsoon and wet season explained | News by The Thaiger

Bangkok and Central provinces

The Thai capital generally can time the rainy season from late June or early July, peaking in September and starting to dry out in September and October.

The rains could start as out-of nowhere storms and often some notable overnight dumps, before increasing to more regular almost daily rains in July and August. It won’t necessarily rain every day and very rarely all day. But sometimes it’s torrential. Bangkok, whilst built to cope with the heavy rains has closed off a lot of the canals and the natural means of escape has been blocked off over the years.

Thailand's monsoon and wet season explained | News by The Thaiger

Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai is the north capital, mostly flat and surrounded by hills. and attracts plenty of tourists and travellers year-round, regardless of weather. Chiang Mai is also the jump off point for visits to Pai, Mae Hong Son, Lampang and Chiang Rai.

The monsoon season lasts longer in the North. compared to Bangkok. It usually starts around May and continues until November. July and August are particularly wet.

Whilst tourism plunges on, regardless of the rains, there will be occasional disruptions to some of the outdoor activities during the peaks of the northern wet season. The northern parts of Thailand do have distinctly cooler weather during the dry season – December until the end of February – even a morning frost in the mountains around the region.

Thailand's monsoon and wet season explained | News by The Thaiger

North East Thailand

The Northeast provinces (known as Isaan) is further away from the Indian Ocean so the monsoon has lost some of its power by the time it reaches the region. The wet season would stretch from May to October but 80% of the rain usually falls in August and September.

The region’s north and eastern borders are the mighty Mekong River which relies on a decent annual fall of rains. In recent years the Mekong has recorded lower levels due to the changes in wet season rains and damming upstream in Laos and China.

East Thailand

Koh Chang and the other islands off the coast of Trat province are beautiful and mostly unspoiled by mass tourism but can be very wet during the monsoon which usually runs from late May to the end of October. In June, July and August it’s likely to rain at some stage just about every day.

The moist air has been sucked in from the Indian Ocean, crossed over the thin peninsula of southern Thailand and then rebuilt strength as it passes over the Gulf of Thailand.

Storms and choppy offshore waters means that diving and snorkelling may be limited. But the islands will be much quieter and prices lower during the wet season.

Phuket, Krabi and the Andaman Coast

Glorious beaches, tropical living and beautiful islands. Once upon a time this region had a distinct high and low tourist season but the changes in international tourist mixes have made many of the Andaman Sea destinations busy throughout the year, rain or no rain. Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta, Khao Lak, Koh Phi Phi are just a few of the popular destinations in this picture-postcard region.

It will usually start raining from mid April to October and November. September and October are the wettest. And when it rains, it pours. The strong south westerly winds usually make the west-facing beaches unswayable for the duration of the monsoon – many tourists drown off these coastlines each year.

Some of the smaller islands and diving spots shut down during the monsoon.

Thailand's monsoon and wet season explained | News by The Thaiger

Koh Samui and the Gulf Islands

Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand are a triad of popular islands off the coast of Surat Thani in the Gulf of Thailand and have their own annual season weather patterns.

The monsoon season doesn’t hit Koh Samui until later in the year, with the rains arriving during October to December with peaks in November and trailing off during the start of the new year. But, like the Andaman Coast destinations, it remains hot and mostly humid throughout the year.

Thailand's monsoon and wet season explained | News by The Thaiger

Things to do in Phuket during the wet season.

And it does get humid. Here’s what you can do to cope with Thailand’s humidity.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Bank report predicts extended timeframe for Thai tourism recovery

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Bank report predicts extended timeframe for Thai tourism recovery | The Thaiger

As the severity of the current situation facing Thailand’s lucrative tourism industry starts to sink in, Kasikorn Bank Research Centre have released a report with some stark predictions.

Thailand’s tourism and hospitality industry faces losses of 1.69 trillion baht in 2020 and recovery “may not be clearly evident” next year. The report also foreshadows strict ‘new normal’ procedures as government measures will control the entry and exit of foreign tourists, actually all foreigners, to prevent further outbreaks of Covid-19.

It has been clear, as restrictions continue whilst the number of new daily cases hovers in single-digits, that Thailand will paint itself as the zero-risk destination. Exactly how that may unfold, and the list of restrictions imposed, has not yet been announced. But the immigration doors are unlikely to be thrown open any times soon.

The impact of Covid-19 on travel demand and the weak purchasing power of future tourists has Kasikorn Research Centre predicting difficult times ahead for the country’s key tourism industry that contributes up to 18% of Thailand’s GDP.

“Even in 2021, recovery will probably not return. Therefore it will be a difficult period for businesses in the chain of the tourism sector.”

“Until a vaccine is found, tourism and hospitality operators will need to adjust their services and the content they offer to ensure they deliver safe distancing and comply with strict health measures.”

The research paper goes through a number of other key points…

• Health regulations will dictate the travel experience

• Touch-points will have to be removed as much as possible

• Safe distancing will need to be practised at popular tourist spots as well as when travelling or staying in hotels or transferring to and from airports

Tour operators face the challenge of offering safe bus transportation throughout Thailand guaranteeing social distancing, which will be required on all transfers. This will increase the cost of transfers and tours, and more buses will be required to transfer tour groups.

For tour groups visiting water or theme parks, flower gardens and museums will need to be carefully managed to prevent further Covid-19 outbreaks.

Even on planes, the option to reduce passenger load, in efforts to impose socially-distant seating, will make it impossible for airlines to operate profitably unless air fares prices substantially increase.

The entire tourism supply chain will be radically different if the ‘risk-free’ Thailand model is to be rolled out effectively. The report suggests that hotels will be invited to join certification schemes.

Tourist-fed economies like Pattaya, Phuket and Koh Samui will be the hardest hit and have a number of years ahead with a long timeframe for recovery reaching beyond the end of next year.

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Thailand

Thailand News Today – Tuesday, May 26

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Thailand News Today – Tuesday, May 26 | The Thaiger

Bangkok woman dies of salmonella poisoning after eating ‘death dumplings’

Following the death of a Bangkok woman who fell ill after eating dumplings, lab tests have now come back proving there were detected traces of salmonella bacteria. 

The Samut Prakan provincial health office confirms that several members of the woman’s family also fell ill after eating the dumplings, which were purchased from a local vendor. Around 2 dozen people ended up sick with 1 person dying sometime after they ate dumplings sold by a street vendor in Samut Prakan, a province south of Bangkok.

It’s understood police are now questioning the dumpling seller, but no charges have been filed as the investigation continues.

Dozens of plastic containers per person in state quarantine

Thailand started the year eco-friendly by banning single-use plastic bags. All good, but with “stay at home” orders and mandated quarantines, plastic waste has been increasing at an alarming rate.

One Thai artist, Henry Tan, who stayed in a state quarantine facility, added up all the plastic containers and bottles he used during his isolation. He ended up with more than 100.

He “says… I thought of this trash being multiplied by the thousands of people that had to go in state quarantine.” 

“On Just my flight alone there were 200 people in quarantine, making 20,000 pieces of plastic waste.,” just from the one flight.

Evidence mounts against “bleach mum”

Officers of the Crime Suppression Division say text messages on the popular Line application show that a woman accused of forcing her two year old “son” to swallow bleach wasn’t the boy’s biological mother. Thai media is reporting that DNA tests prove that a young 2 year old boy is the biological son of a mother who allegedly made him drink bleach.

The boy was rescued and placed in a shelter for children in Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok, after he was treated at Thammasat University Hospital, where doctors alerted police to the suspected child abuse. The woman’s 4 year old daughter died last December from unknown causes at the time but it’s now believed she too died as a result of drinking bleach.

Nittha stands accused of deliberately making the boy ill to swindle donations from sympathetic viewers of her online videos. A check of her financial history found more than 20 million baht in several bank accounts, contradicting her claim of financial difficulties.

In 2018 the woman was sentenced to 3 years in prison in a fraud case involving online product sales.

Deputy PM says politics not involved in Emergency Decree extension

With the second month of Thailand’s national state of emergency coming to a close, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan says fear of second wave of Covid-19 infections, and not politics, is behind the government’s need to extend the Emergency Decree.

Business closures and travel restrictions under the decree have produced huge economic hardship nationwide. His comments come as the cabinet is expected today to extend the emergency decree for a third month. But opposition and critics disagree with prolonging the decree, saying the Communicable Disease Act alone should be enough to control the spread of the virus.

They claim that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s administration has a hidden agenda, alleging they want to hold onto emergency decree powers for political reasons.

Two brothers shot dead after fight over pickup truck

Three brothers got into a fight over a pickup truck their deceased father left for one of the sons. It ended with two of them shot dead.

A witness says that the pickup truck was left behind for the 39 year old brother, but his older brother, Seri, took the truck. Witnesses say the two younger brother went to their older brother’s house on Sunday evening in Bangkok and started to fight. Gunshots were heard and witnesses say they saw Seri flee on his motorcycle.

The two younger brothers were found dead. The older brother remains at large.

Singapore warns of worst economic contraction since independence

Singapore’s embattled economy could shrink by as much as 7% this year, which would be the worst situation since independence in 1965.

The government says the coronavirus pandemic had throttled the country’s key export sector. The warning came hours before Singapore’s deputy PM is expected to unveil another stimulus package for the troubled city, which has been crippled by months of lockdowns.

Bloomberg announced last week that Thailand’s economy is forecast to tank by up to 6% for 2020.

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