BANGKOK: ‘Zero’ is the government’s target. New curfew to be part of stepped-up measures to stem the spread of the virus with 3 more deaths announced today. The new measures also include a complete ban on all inward travel to Thailand for 2 weeks with some mitigation.
The Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan ocha announced a nationwide curfew to come into force tomorrow at 10 pm. The measure is part of increased efforts to curb the infectiousness rate of the virus as Thailand struggles to avoid the fate of the US and European countries.
Thailand has announced its first national curfew this evening in a live TV broadcast. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan ocha addressed the nation at 6 pm.
Ratchada Thanadirek, a spokesperson with the Thai government had earlier confirmed to Reuters that an announcement was being made later this evening by the government leader.
Nationwide curfew to be enforced from 10 pm to 4 am
The curfew will be introduced on Friday night and extend from 10 pm in the evening until 4 am. Exceptions will be made for medical emergencies and necessary public services.
This will also include banking workers as well as those working in the logistics sector providing goods and services to the public.
Failure to observe the order or a breach of the curfew could result in up to 2 years imprisonment or a fine of ฿40,000.
Mixed signals as progress is reported
The announcement this evening came as the government is sending mixed signals about the epidemic in Thailand.
The daily number of infections appear to be in line with the most optimistic estimates advanced last week by key government figures.
Dr Yong Poovorawan, an expert virologist at Chulalongkorn University today confirmed that the infectiousness of the disease in Thailand has declined from 2.5 to 1.5 because of the measures being taken around the country.
Ban on inward travel to include Thai national comes into force until quarantine facilities are set up
The government also announced a complete ban on travel to Thailand for at least two weeks. This also applies to Thai nationals.
It is understood that government agencies need time to prepare state quarantine facilities to accommodate Thai returnees effectively before inward travel can be allowed to resume.
In his speech this evening, the prime minister outlined some degree of mitigation saying that a control centre was being established to manage this issue.
Thai returnees from foreign countries among those who have died and linked to local infections
Details were given today by Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin of the Covid 19 situation centre.
‘If the number of arrivals does not drop, people in our country will be infected,’ he explained.
These actions are being taken given the number of cases in the last week that have been linked to Thai returnees including a 57-year-old man returning from Pakistan who died on a Thai train on Tuesday.
In the past week, Thai returnees from Malaysia and Britain have been among those who have succumbed to the disease and are believed to have infected others locally.
Warning to face mask hoarders
The Prime Minister took some time to issue a special warning for those who hoard or stockpile face masks in the kingdom.
‘I won’t let anyone hoard the product and take advantage of people during this difficult time,’ he said bluntly.
PM – the ultimate target is ‘zero’
General Prayuth urged the public to carry on with their efforts, setting the goal in this campaign as ‘zero’.
Earlier the Covid 19 spokesman, Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, paid tribute to the public’s efforts to halt the spread of the disease.
A survey published today in Thailand showed that 70% of the public were actively pursuing social distancing and self-isolation measures.
‘Past measures have stopped the daily number of new infection cases from increasing but still fail to reduce it. From the start there was an intention to impose measures from soft one to harsh ones,’ he explained.
Dr Taweesin accepted that this had helped to reduce the curve and spread of the disease.
However, he insisted that the government’s goal is to reduce the progress of the virus in Thailand and the number of infections until it is defeated.
Fake news – only authorised people to give interviews with one official briefing daily on the crisis
General Prayuth again brought up the subject of fake news in his address.
He said that unauthorised people would not be allowed to give interviews about the Covid 19 emergency. He told the public that a daily briefing would be given by the Covid 19 centre directing the kingdom’s response.