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Thailand’s poorer areas may suffer if vaccines funded by local municipalities

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Thailand’s poorer areas may suffer if vaccines funded by local municipalities | The Thaiger

Thailand’s poorer areas may suffer if Covid-19 vaccine distribution is given the green light to be funded by local municipalities. Suspicions are already being raised as critics say many municipalities who offer to fund the vaccines may have alterior political motives. As many as 20 municipalities are reporting that they have already set aside funding.

Ratchaburi Town Municipality, for example, has set aside more than 200 million baht to purchase the Covid-19 vaccines but is waiting for the government’s approval to go ahead with local funding. In Bangkok, which has over 5 million residents, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is on standby to use 10 billion baht towards vaccinating its residents.

While those in charge of “richer” municipalities say they are confident they can afford Covid vaccines for their residents, their eagerness is being met with suspicion as local administrations historically have limited experiences and capabilities in this area. Many municipalities have shown to lack medical or public health specialists required to administer such vaccinations.

Nonthaburi Municipality mayor Somnuek Thanadechakul and other local administrators agree on the idea of inoculating residents using local funds as they say it can help speed up the vaccination process.

“If the government gives the green light, we can complete vaccinations in a month instead of three months.”

Pita Limcharoenrut, leader of the opposition Move Forward Party, disagrees as he says it is the responsibility of the government alone to get quality vaccines for everyone. If local administrations are allowed to buy vaccines, he says poorer ones will be at a disadvantage.

“It’s clear that local administrators are using this opportunity to boost their popularity ahead of the next elections.”

Former transport minister Chadchart Sittipunt, has also suggested that the BMA has enough funds to vaccinate 8 million people living in the capital for free.

“The BMA has enough money to shoulder this responsibility immediately.”

Elections for mayors and municipal council members are set to take place in the first half of this year, while Bangkok’s gubernatorial election is likely to take place in the latter half, in which Chadchart is contesting.

PM Prayut has, indeed, confirmed local administrations can acquire vaccines for their residents using their own funds. But the vaccines they purchase must be approved by the FDA to prevent possible side effects. The spokesman for the BMA, Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, is echoing those concerns as he says they are taking into consideration the safety and quality of the vaccines they receive.

“Talks are ongoing over vaccine imports. We are trying to get the vaccines as soon as possible, but they must be the best and safest.”

Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences, is also worried about quality and safety during inoculation and allocation of the vaccines and proposing a rhetorical question.

“Could there be misuse of vaccines that stray from the original goal and target group?”

PM Prayut has also joined in on the concerns by recently saying he wouldn’t let Thai people be “guinea pigs” and is waiting for see more evidence of the safety and accuracy of the vaccines.

According to the Public Health Ministry, Thailand is set to receive China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine in 3 batches starting next month with the first batch seeing 200,000 doses arrive. 800,000 more doses are expected in March, and 1 million in April.

The government has also ordered 26 million doses from AstraZeneca in an agreement that facilitates a “knowledge transfer” for Siam Bioscience, a Thailand firm, to produce the vaccine locally. 35 million more doses from AstraZeneca are also reportedly planned. The government plans to have half of the population or 33 million people inoculated against coronavirus.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Jason

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    The availability and distribution of any vaccine (or a suite of them), should never be a matter of politics, although I have a sneaking suspicion it may become so, particularly if politicians have any influence over availability and or distribution. Vaccination is a matter of public health and should be distributed by health professionals and administered by health professionals.

    If the people sense the distribution of vaccines is subject to politics…expect protests and current political leaders being voted out.

  2. Avatar

    Phuket Tony

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    don’t worry Khun Thai…. even if you are consider lower class bracket, with less money.. because good news is that Covid isn’t affecting your nation, and now you can let let people with money be the Guinee pigs and suffer long term by taking a vaccine that has been rushed out..

    Public health has never been of any concerns for any of the worlds governments during this whole “pandemic” time.

  3. Avatar

    Issan John

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    It’s all a bit “dog in the manger”, as it often is.

    Allowing local administrations to buy and distribute the vaccine doesn’t make anyone worse off, it just makes some better off. I don’t see a problem with that, but I can understand why some do.

  4. Avatar

    Andri

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    According to different estimates up to 20% of the local GDP is related to tourism.
    Most of the workers directly and indirectly employed in the tourism sector come from the poorest regions.
    There is an easy fix : make the vaccine immediately available to all the residents of major tourist islands, let vaccinated tourist in those destinations and there will be enough moneys for everyone in poor regions to afford a vaccine.

  5. Avatar

    Hans

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    We get the vaccine for free in Sweden.
    But i wait until December before i take it to see if people get sick from it.
    I’m pretty sure that the vaccine is ok because they have vaccinated so many people in Israel and the jude don’t take any bad things

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Quarantine for vaccinated travellers to be reduced to 7 days

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Quarantine for vaccinated travellers to be reduced to 7 days | The Thaiger
Photo via Facebook/อนุทิน ชาญวีรกูล

The mandatory quarantine period for those who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be reduced from 14 days to 7 days, Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirankul said in a press conference. Those who have not been vaccinated, but have a medical certificate declaring that they are Covid-free, will be required to quarantine to 10 days, Anutin said, according to Reuters.

The health minister says vaccinations must be administered within 3 months of travelling to Thailand. Travellers must still show negative Covid-19 test results issued within 72 hours of their departure to Thailand. Those travelling from Africa must still quarantine for 14 days due to concerns about new variants of the coronavirus.

SOURCE: Reuters

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CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases

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CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases | The Thaiger
Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

71 new Covid-19 cases were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are currently 579 active cases. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 26,441 coronavirus cases in Thailand and 85 deaths.

“The numbers are getting better,” according to deputy spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun, who gives the CCSA report in English. The daily active case count has remained between 500 to 600 cases for the past week, a much lower average than last month when mass testing campaigns were actively rolled out in high risk areas to help trace and contain the virus.

Out of the 71 cases, 41 were detected in hospitals, primarily in Samut Sakhon. 7 cases were detected in active case finding, including 6 in Samut Sakhon and 1 in Pathum Thani. The other 23 cases were detected in quarantine for those travelling to Thailand from overseas.

Recently, 2 beauty pageant contestants tested positive for Covid-19 while in quarantine after arriving in Thailand from overseas. Women from 63 countries travelled to Thailand to participate in a beauty pageant scheduled for later this month. Natapanu praised the health care workers for their effectiveness at detecting the virus at an early stage.

Over the weekend, the CCSA reported 65 new cases yesterday and 64 new cases on Saturday.

CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases | News by The Thaiger

CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases | News by The Thaiger

Daily active Covid-19 cases in Thailand as of 7 March 2021, according to Worldometers.

SOURCE: CCSA

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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai hotels slash prices amid ongoing slump in tourism

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Chiang Mai hotels slash prices amid ongoing slump in tourism | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort

Hotels in the northern province of Chiang Mai have been forced to cut their rates by up to 90%, in a desperate bid to attract more domestic tourists. According to a Bangkok Post report, La-Iad Bungsrithong, from the northern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, says with tourists mainly favouring the southern beach destinations this month, hotel operators in the north of the country are preparing for the forthcoming low season.

The resurgence of Covid-19 late last year meant that in December, only 1,000 Chiang Mai hotels, offering between 20,000 and 30,000 rooms, stayed open. This month, occupancy rates have plummeted to less than 3% and are not expected to rise beyond 5% during the Songkran holiday next month.

La-Iad says traditional target markets such as China are currently off-limits due to the Chinese government placing restrictions on citizens travelling out of the country.

“Even though vaccine distribution has started globally, the target markets for Chiang Mai such as China still cannot take outbound trips. Operators have to rely on the domestic market for the whole year.”

She adds that the Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort, of which she is general manager, has cut room rates to 1,500 baht a night, compared to the normal rate of 13,000 baht prior to the pandemic.

Hotels are also being forced to explore new ways of making money, with around 30 hotels – all 4 and 5 star properties – now offering a “drive-thru” food service. La-Iad says hotel operators are also calling on the Chiang Mai office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand to provide visitors to the province with a 500 baht coupon to be redeemed in hotel eateries. She says the authority also needs to do more to promote inter-provincial travel, in particular from the south and north-east of the country.

In 2019, Chiang Mai welcomed 11 million tourists, with 70% of them being Thai. By contrast, there were only 1 million in 2020. This year’s number is expected to be around 25% of the 2019 figure.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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