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TTVI center to close before December 26

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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TTVI center to close before December 26 | Thaiger

PHUKET: The Chalong-based Thai Tsunami Victim Identification (TTVI) center will close some time before the anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 26, police say.

Pol Col Khemmarin Hassiri, Superintendent of the TTVI’s Thai disaster victim identification (DVI) unit, said that a written order from the Cabinet to close the center was received by the TTVI following a decision made at the September 6 mobile cabinet meeting Phang Nga.

The exact date that the center will cease operations has not yet been announced.

The TTVI was tasked with identifying 3,777 corpses from the six tsunami-affected provinces. So far 2,363 have been identified: 619 Thais and 1,744 foreigners, Col Khemmarin said.

Profiles for the remaining 1,414 bodies that include DNA and other forensic data have been drawn up, but have yet to match up with information submitted by relatives.

The easier cases of identification, such as those based on matching dental records, have largely been completed and the focus of the work has now largely shifted to DNA and fingerprints, he said.

Col Khemmarin said the TTVI estimates that about 500 of the as yet unidentified corpses are those of Burmese workers.

Last December 26 there were about 64,000 registered Burmese workers in the six provinces hit by the tsunami. Thus far only 30 Burmese have been identified, using computer fingerprint matching done in Australia, he said.

All Burmese legally working in the country are required to leave a set of fingerprints as part of the registration process.

“As for the 30 Burmese workers we were able to identify, we notified the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok and are still awaiting a reply,” he said.

Despite fingerprints and information provided to the TTVI by the International Organization for Migration and other agencies, identifying Burmese victims has proved a daunting task.

“Some victims may have been working in Thailand illegally; others who were working legally and survived the disaster may have gone back to Myanmar without declaring themselves,” he said.

Corpses that remain unidentified when the TTVI closes will be turned over to the Justice Ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science, which will decide where to keep the bodies when the TTVI morgue in Mai Khao closes.

Col Khemmarin said the identification process has been as stringent as possible in order to prevent the wrong remains being given over to relatives.

He cited the example of a woman from Chiang Mai’s Fang District who came to Phuket and positively identified a set of remains as those of her younger sister. She then returned to Fang and got a death certificate, allowing her to collect the body.

When the woman returned to Phuket, she didn’t have the 50,000 baht necessary to transport the body home and asked for the TTVI to hold on to the corpse while she tried to raise the funds.

A subsequent re-check of fingerprint data later revealed that the body was not that of her sister after all.

“We don’t recheck the information in order to find fault with people or punish those who may have been involved in the misidentification, only to ensure that the work is as clean and complete and possible,” Col Khemmarin said.

“Even though we have no past experience to use as a basis of comparison in evaluating our work, I can say that we worked hard. Foreign DVI teams rotated in and out on a three-week basis, but the Thai staff have been working here non-stop since February 3,” he said.

He said that the TTVI’s database would be available to the Central Institute of Forensic Science to make the handover as smooth as possible.

The two agencies were involved in a bitter dispute in early February when the Police ruled that the TTVI would take over the work of identifying suspected Thai victims in Phang Nga, where the work had previously been led by forensic pathologist Dr Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand

Tim Newton

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UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand | Thaiger

UPDATE: The field hospital in Bangkok’s Bang Bon district, west of the Chao Phraya river, had its first 10 Covid patients today. The director of the medical services office of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says that the 10 patients into the makeshift hospital, located at the Chalerm Phra Kiat Stadium, will enable assessment of the performance by the medical team, before more patients arrive – Thai PBS World

ORIGINAL STORY: Despite the confident posture and Songkran going ahead, amid restrictions, there is a lot of background activity which suggest the authorities are getting ready for a surge of new infections at the end of the Songkran break, officially this Thursday (but in reality, next Sunday at the end of the weekend when most people who travelled home will return for a resumption of work).

The Thai lunar new year celebrations – Songkran – are the largest mass movement of Thais each year, a source for a huge leap in road deaths and accidents. And, this year, a potential super-spreader event.

Quietly, at least 3,000 extra beds have been prepared in 10 field hospitals around Bangkok. The government has also confirmed that additional field hospitals are being set up in other potential ‘hot zones’, including Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chonburi and Hua Hin. Some of them were set up last year, and since closed, and now being prepared for new positive infections.

One Thai person who had been in one of the field hospitals put together a check-list of things to take IF you end up as an invited ‘guest’ HERE.

The CCSA say they are looking for additional beds in hotels and previous state quarantine facilities (where repatriating Thais were housed for their free quarantine) to be used if needed.

This year’s Songkran had bad timing, coming just a week after a number of major clusters were identified around some of Bangkok’s popular nightlife areas in 3 key inner city districts. Even before Songkran these isolated clusters had already spread into the provinces. In the weekend before Songkran the government had already listed 37 provinces which had instigated some form of paperwork or restrictions for people who had been in any of the 3 Bangkok districts.

The government also leapt on the source of the new outbreaks – bars, clubs and entertainment venues – and promptly shut them down for at least 2 weeks. At this stage it looks likely that that ban will be extended beyond the 2 weeks and, depending on the extent of new infections following the Songkran holiday, additional restrictions will also be added.

Even today the Civil Aviation Authority published a number of new in-flight restrictions for passengers – another blow to the hard-hit domestic aviation sector.

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Education

Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation”

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Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Student protests led to one student not graduating due to being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”

After participating in protests for student’s rights, a Phuket student was barred from graduating 9th grade, moving from middle school to high school, charged with being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”. The student had advocated against mandatory uniforms and for student’s liberties. He told reporters that the school started paying attention to his actions last year when he participated in rallies in solidarity with students across Thailand. The school’s student affairs office received a copy of posts he made on social media encouraging others to join the cause. The school ordered a stop to his political actions, but he and his friends disregarded warnings and violated school rules when they handed out white ribbons to classmates. They received a warning from the student affairs office.

Student protests have increased after pro-democracy demonstrations surged in July last year, empowering many Thai people to speak out against injustices, including students’ rights and liberties. People from schools across the nation have been banding together in solidarity to bring their issues to public light.

On graduation day, all the students were promoted into high school, except for the one student protestor, says the Bad Student protest group. The theme of the day focused on dedication to the monarchy, country and religion, and specifically how students should be obedient. The student said he has received support from friends, but his parents remain neutral and his teachers have been completely silent on the matter. He is frustrated that he was punished for his right to express himself. He plans on testing with incoming students to re-enrol in the same school, and if he is not accepted because of the disloyalty charge, he will pursue legal ramifications, suing the school for blocking his right to an education over the student’s protests.

The student believes he needs to speak out to prevent school administrators from imposing on more students’ rights. He advocates for diversity in schools and ending prejudices, with increased liberties and freedoms for students.

“Schools must teach children to be able to think by themselves, not force children to think like them. Schools should create opportunities for students to express their ideas more freely.”

SOURCE: Prachatai

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