BANGKOK: The figures for infections are expected to skyrocket between now and April 15th even in the best-case scenario but the government is hoping to keep the number below 8,000. Currently, 12% of those infected are foreigners with 5 dead and 11 using ventilators. The outlook for Thailand is now very much in the hands of the public’s response and co-operation with the government’s emergency centre chaired by the PM.
Commencing this weekend and into the next week, for 7 days, the government is asking everyone in Thailand not to come out and stay at home in an effort to control the number of infections linked with the Covid 19 outbreak. The Commander of Thailand’s armed forces, overseeing security for the Covid 19 administration unit now directing the country, has indicated that there is still a fighting chance of avoiding a 24 hour curfew or total lockdown of the country.
The Supreme Commander of Thailand’s armed forces, General Pornpipat Benyasri, has warned the public that all socialising and person to person contact, whatever the reason, should cease, if at all possible, over the weekend and for the coming week.
The officer who is in charge of security for the Covid 19 emergency administration panel under the Prime Minister Prayuth Chan ocha, said that if the infection numbers towards the end of next week are moderate at 2,000 cases, then it will signify progress in the fight against the disease and this may avert the need for a curfew.
General in charge of security warns that up to 7,000 cases in the coming week would signal a curfew
Instead, he warned that the numbers may reach 7,000 cases. That would signify the situation was not being controlled by voluntary means and that a curfew must then ensue.
Curfew would have to be a 24-hour one
General Pornpipat explained that in that scenario, the curfew would probably be a 24 hour one with a time window for buying essentials.
‘If a curfew is to be imposed, it will not just be for the night time because the disease is always active by day and night,’ he said.
With up to 80% co-operation from the public, a lockdown can be avoided with manageable numbers
It comes as startling figures, prepared by a government medical expert, released through the office of the new emergency centre administering the country under the emergency orders in force, show that with 80% cooperation from the public on social distancing, the number of infections by mid-April can be kept manageable at just under 8,000 cases.
Worst case scenario could see infections at over 25,000 by mid-April and hard medical decisions
However, with just 50% cooperation, the number of expected cases will be over 17,000 and with no effective cooperation, then the figures will balloon to over 25,000.
The fear for Thailand is that, at that point, the country’s health services may be overwhelmed and the emergency administration will have to resort to making hard decisions in consultation with top medics.
This is something that leading doctors have warned persistently cannot be allowed to happen in Thailand.
The consequences of this will also be heavy in economic terms and impact since it will mean an extended period of closure and heightened uncertainty within society.
Question for the public put to everyone in Thailand by the military general in stark and real terms
The message from the emergency centre is clear.
‘Do we want to voluntarily comply with the directive to stay at home and to practise social distancing or do we want to see a lockdown?’ General Pornpipat put it to the nation in these stark, no-nonsense terms.
Currently, since Friday, there are 1,136 cases. 12% of these are foreigners and 11 are in critical care needing respirators.
Hotspots for the disease have emerged in Bangkok, Chonburi and Phuket where there are 41 cases. This is in line with predictions by the government’s experts prior to the state of emergency.
Trains suspended on Friday
On Friday, all rail services were suspended and governors in various provinces such as Chonburi have issued stricter measures to control the opening hours of convenience stores.
Earlier in the week, bus ticket sales were also halted.
In Chonburi, convenience stores are now closed from 10 pm to 5 am.
Reports from checkpoints in operation throughout the country, for the last few days, indicate that 100 suspicious cases were detected among individuals stopped in vehicles.
Most had registered high temperatures. They were held for further examination.
Police have a message for internal travellers on Thailand’s roads – avoid it, but you will be screened
Speaking at a press conference with General Pornipat at the end of the week, police spokesman General Piya Uthayo had a message for anyone travelling internally in Thailand at this time: ‘Every passenger has to make sure that he or she wears a surgical mask and that there is enough space between them. Everyone will also have his or her temperature taken.’
Airport incoming passengers at less than 5%
Meanwhile, at Thailand’s airports, incoming flights are beginning to wind down with arrivals at less than 5% of normal.
All foreign travellers are banned with a 24-hour window and exception for passengers in transit to other countries.
One Thai Airways flight which arrived in the last few days from Oslo in Norway had just two Thai nationals aboard who had managed to put together the correct paperwork and had the plane to themselves as they flew home in splendid isolation to the kingdom.