Thailand News Update | What covid restrictions will be eased this week?
Whilst we get to wait a few more days to see if and how the current Covid restrictions will be modified or lifted, the public health minister has again stated that bars and nightlife will still need to remain closed. Speaking to the media yesterday, Minister Anutin Charnvirakul remarked that his “ministry will change the way it reports infection numbers”, focussing on recoveries patients with poor outcomes from the virus instead of headline case numbers. He said that…“about 80% of those who died were not vaccinated, or belonged to at-risk groups”. He said Thailand won’t need to bring back lockdowns, but also said that “nightlife venues, such as pubs, bars and karaoke parlours won’t be allowed to reopen just yet.”
The Thai government is launching a project to get rid of illegal landfills around Bangkok. The “SHUT DOWN!” project is led by Bangkok’s Environmental Crime group, Greencrop. So far, two of the more than 20 illegal landfills were raided in the operation. A report in Thai media says the dumps were in Bangkok’s Lat krabang district and run by a 49 and 41 year old. Both have now been charged for turning land into landfills without permission. They said they would come up with a deal with the landowner and open for residents to leave their rubbish, charging them around 40 to 300 baht per time. Authorities report there are over 23 illegal landfills around the city, spreading in most districts. They warned all business owners and investors, especially in the property industry, to be careful when buying land that may have been used as an illegal dump.
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, is heading to Thailand for an official trip. But there is a bit of paperwork to get ready, as the government puts the finishing touches on a blueprint to restarting bilateral cooperation between the two kingdoms. Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai says the arrangements to resume full diplomatic relations between the 2 countries follows the Thai PMs visit to Riyadh 2 weeks ago. He said that the official visit is likely to take place later this year. He also said that it’s a priority is to find a new ambassador to fill the vacant post in Riyadh, after three decades of strained relations over, what’s been called, the Blue Diamond Affair.
Hundreds of Thai tourists were stuck high and dry on top of a mountain after visiting the Naga Cave at Phu Langka National Park in Bueng Kan province. The cave is known for a giant rock with scale-like marking and a shape that looks like the mystical serpent, the Naga. Many Thai people believe that this is a sacred spot to pray for good luck, especially the lucky numbers for the lottery. But last Saturday was a date considered by many Thais to be so sacred and powerful that wishes can come true. In fact so many people visited the Naga Cave that many had to wait in long queues and others were stuck on the mountain waiting to get down along the crowded path. Some visitors said they’d started up the mountain at 7.30 in the morning and didn’t get down until 9 at night.
The body of a 63 year old German man has been found hanging on a wrought iron fence and his house on fire. Police suspect the incident is a suicide, but are still investigating. The firefighters were summoned to the Kanchanaburi Villa Housing Estate in western Thailand. Ten fire engines were dispatched to put out the fire that broke out at the two-story house around 3:30 am yesterday. Neighbors told police that they heard three or four loud explosions from inside the home and walked outside to find the house on fire. Firefighters and police discovered two 15 kilogram gas canisters on the second level, each surrounded by four charred car tyres. First responders speculate that the man had set fire to them with the intent of burning down the house before hanging himself. Reports say a distressing message was spray-painted inside of the home, mentioning a failed 21 year relationship. The investigation continues and the German embassy has been informed.
With the Omicron variant in Indonesia leading to a spike in cases in Jakarta, officials are tightening restrictions in the capital, Bali, Bandung in West Java, and Yogyakarta in Central Java. Reports initially said foreign tourists would be barred from entering Jakarta, but the transport minister has now clarified that tourists with the proper documentation can still fly into Jakarta and Bali airports, as well as the Indonesian islands near Singapore. More than 36,000 Covid-19 infections were reported on Sunday, another 26,000 yesterday. Hospital cases have also surged a 63% bed occupancy rate in Jakarta’s hospitals, up from 45% last month. Under the new rules, supermarkets, shopping centres and restaurants will have restricted capacities, and houses of worship will be limited to 50% capacity. The health minister said they expect the peak of cases around the end of this month.
And in order to improve ASEAN – US relations, US President Joe Biden stated that his administration is looking forward to working with Cambodia acting as this year’s ASEAN chair in promoting the trade bloc’s “regional architecture”.President Biden wrote a letter to Cambodian PM Hun Sen saying that he intends to invite ASEAN leaders to a special conference in Washington in the coming months. Hun Sen has responded to the President by fully supporting the summit in Washington. This week, ASEAN countries will gather in Phnom Penh to discuss Myanmar’s ongoing crisis and regional security cooperation. The meeting will also address the issue of “developing common solutions and processes” for economic recovery of the ten member south East Asian nations following the Covid-19 crisis.
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