KOH PHANGAN: Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan has been called off for Sunday and all future parties until the coronavirus emergency is brought under control. All post is being disinfected as Thailand is still considering quarantine regulations for high-risk countries as announced by the Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul on Tuesday followed by controversy over a deleted Facebook post.
Thailand reported four new coronavirus infections on Thursday and it is reported that the quarantine provision for all passengers in the 11 high-risk countries announced under controversial circumstances by the Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, on Tuesday has not been ruled out by Thai authorities at the highest level with any formal decision on the matter to be published in the Royal Gazette. Thailand is now at a critical juncture in the fight against the coronavirus and the government’s handling of the outbreak compares favourably to countries in Europe such as Italy, Germany France and the UK. On Thursday, authorities on Koh Phangan island announced that the Full Moon Party scheduled for Sunday was cancelled as were all future events until this crisis is ended. Meanwhile, Thailand also began disinfecting all mail and post in the kingdom.
The latest four cases announced by the Department of Disease Control justifies the original announcement by Minister of Public Health on Tuesday as they involve passengers from Iran and Italy with two foreigners, an Italian and Chinese man as well as two Thai nationals returning from both countries.
Despite the deletion of the announcement by the minister and even confirmation from the Royal Thai Embassy in Singapore on Wednesday that healthy passengers from that state did not need to self-quarantine for 14 days, it is understood that senior Thai officials are reluctant to counter the announcement of the new provisions made on Tuesday.
Minister of Public Health’s order still being considered by officials at the highest level
On Wednesday, a spokesperson at the Ministry of Public Health told the financial information news agency, Bloomberg, in New York that the order has not been shelved.
Taweesilp Witsanuyotin indicated that the Thai prime minister was actively discussing the measure with top officials.
Some sources say the quarantine is ‘advisory’
At the same time, another official told Singapore’s Straits Times that the 14-day quarantine was ‘advisory’ but did apply to all 11 high-risk counties listed.
On Wednesday, the waters were muddied even further when the Minister of Public Health suggested that the deletion of the announcement was made inadvertently by officials and that his son had advised him to cut back on his social media activity.
Other reports suggested that the 11 countries and territories are being ‘revised’ – a final decision to be published in Royal Gazette according to the original order.
Director of Disease Control said all healthy people to be quarantine if from a risk country
On Thursday, the Director of the Disease Control Department at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, made no distinction between returning Thai nationals and foreigners when he told the media that all healthy people from Covid 19 risk countries would be quarantined at guarded facilities.
De facto situation now is there is no quarantine for foreigners but preparation for returning Thai workers
However, it is understood that the de facto situation right now is that the new regulations are to be applied only to planned returnees from South Korea.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan confirmed on Thursday that military compounds are being readied across the country for the purpose.
There is no indication of the nature of high-level talks taking place but obviously, the real risk now posed by passengers from the high-risk countries is being considered particularly with regards to Italy and Iran.
The other key issue may be how the government could have problems legally differentiating between Thai nationals and foreigners including both public sensitivity and legal minefield associated with this.
Coronavirus Convid 19 has confirmed a mortality rate of 3.4% – according to WHO
As the coronavirus outbreak around world escalates and with news that there is now a more serious strain of the virus (type L), as announced by the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Wednesday, the time may be coming for more robust action may have come.
The mortality rate for the virus is now 3.4%. The common flu has a mortality rate of 0.1% which makes this disease 34 times more lethal.
There is no equivalency here despite efforts from some quarters to play down this threat for political purposes or simply because the situation is so disturbing.
There had been some suggestion that the mortality rate of the virus was lower with figures of 1% to 2.4% being quoted. However, the 3.4% figure was confirmed this week by the Director-General of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom at a press conference from Geneva.
This can easily be seen from the raw data as of Thursday showing currently 3,305 deaths with 96,888 infections. That equates to 3.41%.
Thai government pressing ahead with plans for Thai ‘little ghosts’ from South Korea
As top Thai officials, including the Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha, weigh up the handling of passengers from high-risk countries, the Thai government is pressing ahead with preparations for returnees from South Korea with military hospitals being prepared by Thailand’s 3rd and 4th armies in the northeast and north of the country.
Interior minister has ordered all provincial authorities to prepare facilities to accommodate those placed in quarantine from South Korea
The Thai Interior Minister, General Anupong Paojinda, said on Thursday that he had requested all provincial governors in Thailand to prepare facilities for returning workers or ‘little ghosts’ from South Korea.
His ministry was also liaising with provincial health authorities to arrange for volunteers to monitor those under quarantine.
Concerning illegal Thai workers, the Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul said that returnees would be required to self-quarantine by South Korean authorities for 14 days and will then be quarantined for a second 14 day period when they return to Thailand.
All post in Thailand to be disinfected
Thai authorities also announced on Thursday that all post distributed in the kingdom including any incoming post from foreign countries was being disinfected despite official World Health Organisation advice that post from China is safe.
Full Moon Party is off and all future events cancelled until further notice by local authorities
On Thursday also, there was news from the beautiful island of Koh Phangan where the famous Full Moon party has been cancelled by island officials indefinitely due to the current health crisis.
The announcement was made by district chief, Somchai Somwong, on Thursday and was confirmed by Surat Thani Governor, Wichwut Jinto, who pointed out that the move was one which will help preserve the health and safety of existing tourists on the island given the current circumstances and fears.
The party had been scheduled to go ahead on Sunday. All tourist operators and hotels on the island have been briefed on the decision.
The Full Moon Parties, for decades, have become a mecca for foreign tourists and are almost a right of passage for young western travellers.
Some celebrate the banning of the Full Moon Party
Unfortunately, the party is also associated with debauched behaviour and drug use which offends some Thai people and indeed some foreigners living in Thailand.
There were some on Thursday who cheered the decision hoping that it would be permanent despite the undoubted contribution it makes to the local economy and Thailand’s tourism appeal to a younger western demographic.
Officials have promised that the Full Moon Party will return as soon as the Convid 19 coronavirus crisis has finally abated.
UK government pinning its hopes on a strategy of waiting for warmer weather to combat the virus
There may be some hope in the virus abating somewhat towards the summer or with higher temperatures.
Both US President Donald Trump and Thai Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn were criticised in recent weeks for suggesting that rising temperatures will help kills off the virus together with stringent controls.
However, the current UK strategy, announced today, is one of delaying the virus reaching its peak infection point until warmer weather in the United Kingdom and the northern hemisphere which will help bring it under control.
Alarmingly, UK officials appear to have accepted that the virus is spreading within the general population and that it cannot be controlled at this point.
Thailand announces 4 new cases of the disease
Thailand reported four new coronavirus cases on Thursday, all from countries on the Public Health Minister’s high-risk list from Tuesday.
The infections were confirmed by Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, the Director-General of the Disease Control Department of the Ministry of Public Health.
One case involved a 29-year-old Italian man who arrived in the kingdom on Sunday. He passed through screening at Suvarnabhumi Airport but sought medical help the following day at a local private hospital.
He is being treated in Chonburi.
The second case involved a 42-year-old Thai man who arrived from Italy on Monday and sought help at another Chonburi hospital. He displayed symptoms of a sore throat, fever and runny nose.
Third case was a Chinese tourist in transit from Iran to China and who was detained in Nonthaburi
The third case involved a 22-year-old Chinese student who arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport and was detected while in transit through the airport buildings to take a flight to China.
He was removed to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi which is Thailand’s main treatment centre for the infection with over 300 beds.
The fourth case is a 20-year old Thai student who returned to Nakhon Si Thammarat province from Iran on February 27th but reported to a local hospital with symptoms on Monday.