BANGKOK: Officials point out that between 70 and 80% of infections are in the Greater Bangkok area. Outside the capital, the government has left the call to local provincial governors as it tries to limit and contain the transmission of the disease in Thailand following the advice of its expert panel. Pattaya has already shuttered its bars with announcements also due for other tourists hotspots based on expert advice which the government has received in a secret report.

Thailand has announced another 30 coronavirus infections along with the closure of all bars and entertainment venues in the Greater Bangkok area on Tuesday. The decision to close the bars in the capital was announced by Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan ocha. Bars and entertainment venues will remain open in other provinces and tourist hotspots subject to review by provincial governors. The government is also insisting that the country remains in a Phase 2 situation of local transmission of the deadly Convid 19 virus.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister Prayuth Chan ocha announced that all bars, entertainment venues and massage parlours will close in Bangkok until at least the 31st of March next. Bars and venues in provinces are still open but subject to orders from provincial governors as provincial administrations now begin to play a more active role in controlling the coronavirus within Thailand’s borders.

Thailand announced thirty new coronavirus infections on Tuesday moving the total to 177. This has increased by 115% since Saturday when the number was 82. There had also been a noticeable uptick in infections just prior to this and leading doctors claim that a phase 3 outbreak is inevitable.

Senior public health ministry officials on Tuesday stressed that the latest infections are accounted for by 11 new cases from a boxing stadium outbreak from among 14 who had been in contact with previous patients or linked with the boxing venue. 

The second category of patients included 9 Thai nationals just returned from trips to foreign countries and one who worked with foreigners. The other six were being investigated.

All schools to close following a cabinet meeting

On Tuesday, the Thai cabinet confirmed the cancellation of the Songkran holidays and also announced that all schools would close.

On Monday, the government announced the closure of entertainment venues including bars and cinemas but on Tuesday, government deputy spokeswoman Ratchada Thanadirek clarified that the orders to close bars and entertainment venues were to come from provincial governors who had the power to decide on a selective basis based on their assessment of the condition on the ground.

A decision has also been taken to ban all mass gatherings.

PM announces closure of all bars, entertainment venues and massage parlours in Greater Bangkok

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan ocha, today, did order the closure of all bars and entertainment venues in the Greater Bangkok area until at least March 31st.

The order covers a wide range of establishments including massage parlours, fitness gyms, music venues and cinemas.

Universities also to close in Bangkok

The order to close schools also extends to places of education such as universities in the Greater Bangkok area which includes 5 other provinces including Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakan.

Bangkok accounts for 70 to 80% of current infections so far in Thailand as experts call for controls on it and other provinces linked with tourism

Currently, Thai officials point out that between 70 and 80% of all known infections of the virus are in the Greater Bangkok area. That is in line with the predictions of the government’s expert panel monitoring the crisis.

This body is advocating a tighter control of Bangkok and other provinces where there are concentrations of foreigners and those arriving on inbound flights.

Buriram moves to screen travellers

Buriram became the first Thai province on Monday to initiate province-wide controls including checks on those entering the northeastern province on the border of the Isan region.

There is concern that workers from tourist areas returning home because of the tourist downturn, could pose a risk of spreading the transmission.

Belgian man reports to his Thai family in Phetchabun with the virus after a week’s holiday in Pattaya

On Monday, Thai officials confirmed the case of a 67-year old Belgian man who arrived in Thailand on March 3rd.

The Belgian took a week-long holiday in Pattaya on his arrival. The man is married to a Thai woman from Phetchabun province and phoned home on March 10th asking for his family to come and collect him in the resort city famous for its nightlife and prostitution.

He was later confirmed with the Covid 19 virus at Phetchabun Hospital after being brought by his family there. He reported to the medical facility with a fever. 

The whole family has now been placed in quarantine.

Phetchabun’s Governor Seubsak Iam-wijan appealed for calm among residents in the province. He assured the public that the elderly man’s contacts in Pattaya had been limited and had already been traced.

Prime Minister explains difficulties in enforcing government decisions as agencies try to coordinate

As with previous orders concerning this outbreak, there may be a delay before the enforcement details are finally clarified.

The prime minister spoke on Monday about the difficulties that arise in enforcing such decisions as the country’s administrative structures and agencies struggle to coordinate the details involved.

Similar issues and problems have been seen in all western countries dealing with this evolving emergency.

Government stresses that this is not a lockdown

On Tuesday, officials were stressing that this is not a lockdown like we have seen in some European countries.

For now, people are free to go out, with shopping centres and restaurants still open.

The government at the same time, however, warned all outlets involved in selling food or beverages to exercise caution and ensure the highest standards of hygiene.

Still in Phase 2 with a new line of defence in provincial administrations closer to the ground

Top officials have also made it clear that Thailand is still in a Phase 2 situation. It expects to maintain this status and be in position, at some point over the coming weeks, to relax the measures just announced.

Pattaya bars were also shut on Tuesday evening after an announcement by the provincial administration of Chonburi. For now, also, bars and entertainment outlets in Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui and other favourite haunts for foreigners in Thailand, remain open but based on a secret expert report seen this weekend, these provinces may also soon see a shutdown in the coming hours.

This status is subject to review and oversight by provincial governors who have the authority to order a shutdown.

Further reading:

Another record rise in infections on Monday as top virologist predicts widespread transmission in Thailand

Fears that Thailand could be on the verge of a phase 3 breakout with 32 new infections in 1 day

Anutin is proposing to close all bars and music venues including nightclubs and go gos

Thailand extends quarantine rule for western countries including the US and the UK over virus

Thai Deputy PM Anutin warns the public to be wary of dirty white western tourists who don’t shower