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PABUK a tropical storm, not a typhoon

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Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

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Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21 | The Thaiger

In a nationwide crackdown on gambling, police in the Isaan province Khon Kaen raided a warehouse and seized more than 400 slot machines.

Acting on a court warrant, police searched the warehouse. The locks on the door had been changed and police had to break into the warehouse. Inside, canvases covered 418 slot machines. Police say the machines were “plug and play” ready to go.

Officers say they believe the warehouse was linked to an illegal gambling den in the province… surely, not another one. No arrests have been made and police are still investigating.

After nearly recovering from Covid-19, Samut Sakhon’s governor is back on a ventilator after nearly a month receiving artificial creating support. Doctors are currently monitoring the Governor’s condition hourly.

While the 58 year old governor’s Covid-19 infection had subsided, the virus negatively affected his lung function, according to doctors. They reported today that a bacterial infection is now destroying some of his lung tissue.

They also said that the governor’s brain function has been affected by the Covid-19 virus, but the spokesperson didn’t go into specific details.

Last week, doctors announced Verasak’s condition was improving and he would be taken off the ventilator.

Speaking of Samut Sakhon, the province’s Central Shrimp Market, the original epicentre of the latest wave of Covid-19 that kicked off on December 20 last year, is ready to reopen by the end of January after a big clean up.

The reopening is considered “important” to the provincial economy, according to the province’s deputy governor. It will also be a new beginning for the workers, mostly migrant workers, who have been so profoundly affected by the cluster.

The Market has been shut since December 20 after more than 500 cases of Covid-19 were detected, following nearly 7 months of single digit daily infection reports.

Since then, nearly 5,000 accumulative cases have been detected as a result of the cluster… mostly migrant workers, and most from Myanmar. Some 331 are still in hospital.

The Koh Larn community committee is asking the Chon Buri provincial communicable disease committee to consider reopening the island after being affected by the restriction measures from January 5. The island is currently almost cut off from traffic from the mainland.

Koh Larn, one of the province’s popular tourist destinations off the coast of Pattaya, has been massively affected by the restrictions.

The Koh Larn community committee says all stringent control measures are in place now, so there wouldn’t be a problem if they can get back to operation again.

Air pollution in Bangkok is expected to get worse over the next few days as pollutants are getting trapped in the atmosphere thanks to a recent cold spell and a lack of wind to blow the haze away from the city. In response to the unhealthy air pollution, The PM’s Office permanent secretary says he has asked several ministries to step up efforts in combatting the PM2.5 micron ‘dust’ particulate that has blanketed the city.

He says…. vehicle exhaust fumes, construction sites and burning garbage in open areas is not helping.”

“To add to the problem, the cold spell is creating an “inversion layer” which stops air below it from rising and trapping pollutants.”

As usual, Bangkok officials are looking to some of the smaller, localised traffic issues to blame, although the annual “smoke from the north” problem remains the key and overriding issue regarding Bangkok’s smog problem months. The local traffic pollutants, whilst ever-present, don’t cause the skyline smog and haze for the rest of the year.

And when the Thais refer to a “cold spell” it usually means the ambient morning temperature has dropped to the low 20s. In other parts of the world that would be considered a heat wave!

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Tower Of Babble – Have your say on The Thaiger – January 21

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Tower Of Babble – Have your say on The Thaiger – January 21 | The Thaiger

Tower of Babble is where we read some of your comments made on The Thaiger YouTube videos, as well as our website thethaiger.com and Facebook page. Some are insightful, some are interesting, some need to be shared! And some are just plain funny.

If you leave a comment under any of our videos it may be shared on our Tower of Babble each day.

Please don’t post links when you make a comment. But you can copy and paste bits of text to support your comment if you wish.

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Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

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Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19 | The Thaiger

Confusion reigns today over if Covid-19 tests will be required for visa extensions.

While Phuket News spoke with an immigration official who said “no… you don’t need a Covid-19 test to extend your visa or apply for a work permit”, Khaosod English wrote an article headlined “Covid-19 test will be mandatory for all visa extension”.

The Thaiger also contacted a respected visa agent who said Covid-19 tests are now required for applying for both visa extensions and work permits including renewals.

The Thai Immigration Bureau has not made any official announcement regarding mandatory Covid-19 tests. Talk about Covid-19 tests for foreigners was brought up after a rule was published in the Royal Gazette last month, officially adding Covid-19 to a list of dangerous diseases, prohibiting those infected with any of the listed illnesses from entering the country.

Immigration Police Bureau spokesperson Archayon Kraithong told Khaosod English that proof of a negative Covid-19 test will be required for visa extensions, regardless of how long a foreigner has stayed in Thailand.

Medical exams are currently already required for most work permit applicants (including tests for Syphilis and Elephantiasis). A visa agent told The Thaiger that Covid-19 tests have been added to the medical examination requirements.

We’ll bring you any further clarification on that issue as it becomes available.

Research shows that online learning causes a 50% drop in mathematical comprehension, and a 30% drop in reading literacy among Thai students.

Research presented by the government’s Equitable Education Fund indicates that months of home-learning cannot match in-school study and in fact, can cause a deterioration in students’ ability. With schools currently closed in 28 Thai provinces, thousands of children across the country are joining in with online classes.

The EEF says home-schooling, with the use of screens, also has a negative effect on students’ mental health and their social and emotional development. The research, carried out by the Northwest Evaluation Association, echoes a study done by Massachusetts’ Institute of Technology, which demonstrates that learning through technology is no match for face-to-face learning in the classroom.

Home schooling has been shown to contribute to a decline in overall knowledge, as well as affecting access to quality nutrition, age-appropriate learning, and social experiences.

The EEF says online learning will only serve to widen the gap between rural children and those in the cities by about 2 years, potentially leading to economic disparity and fuelling a cycle of poverty for generations.

With the number of Covid-19 infections among migrant workers in Samut Sakhon failing to drop significantly, the PM is instructing officials to make sure companies are not still hiring illegal workers.

Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke to the deputy governor by video conference from Government House yesterday.

The central province of Samut Sakhon is considered the epicentre of Thailand’s current surge of Covid-19 infections, following an outbreak at the provinces coastal fish markets last month.

The resurgence is linked to migrant workers who were smuggled into the Kingdom illegally, bypassing health checks and the mandatory quarantine requirements. The companies are always seeking cheap labour for the competitive seafood market and have long flouted Thailand’s labour laws with hundreds of cases of forced labour and slavery coming out of the sector.

Samut Sakhon’s own governor tested positive for the virus and remains under hospital care, although he’s now off the ventilator.

As the devastating economic effects of Covid-19 restrictions persist, a record number of Thai tourism operators are quitting the sector for good.

The number of tourism companies surrendering their licences peaked last month, and around 70% of outbound agents have now shut up shop indefinitely. The final nail in their collective coffins has been the latest Covid-19 resurgence, which was detected on December 20 last year in the central province of Samut Sakhon and has now spread to over 60 Thai provinces.

The president of the Thai Travel Agents Association says around 10% of outbound tour operators have returned their licences to the Tourism Department. 2,598 tourism operators have left the sector for good, unable to survive having no international tourists for nearly a year now. The last quarter of 2020 also saw the highest number of companies de-registering, at 765. Of those, 293 quit last month.

Pundits predict that domestic tourism may pick up again by April, but this depends on how effective the government is at bringing the second wave of the virus under control. The TTAA adds, that with the arrival of spring in many parts of the world in the coming months, global infections may fall, but it’s still a waiting game.

The TTAA says that in 2019, 11 million Thai tourists spent 430 billion baht on overseas trips. Last year, that plummeted to 1 million spending only 50 billion baht, and most of that was in the first couple of months of the year.

In the midst of a new wave of Covid-19 infections, the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be approved for emergency use and injections could begin next month in Thailand.

The local roll out would start with vulnerable groups who are in the 5 coastal provinces under maximum control to contain the coronavirus – Samut Sakhon, Trat, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi and Rayong.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the vaccine for emergency use this week. The FDA is examining documents as part of the registration process and to declare the vaccine’s efficacy and safety.

Thailand had earlier secured 26 million doses of the vaccine, which is developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the UK’s Oxford University. The Thai company Siam Bioscience is also poided to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine. Injections for the general public are projected to start in the second half of 2021.

Thailand has also secured 2 million doses of China’s Sinovac BioTech vaccine. The first batch of 200,000 doses is expected to arrive in February. 800,000 more doses will arrive in March and 1 million doses in April.

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