Lower new cases of infection and hospitalisation mean Thailand is winning the war against the Covid 19 virus but it’s too soon to think of life returning to normal, says a top medical expert. This comes 24 hours after two Thai women died in the Chao Phraya River on Monday when they jumped from a bridge in the city. The impact of the shutdown curfew had caused three university students to attempt suicide. Only one survived the ordeal.

Thailand on Tuesday showed clear signs that it was making progress in the battle against the Covid 19 virus with a significant reduction in infections for the second day in a row which was attributed by government spokesman Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin to the April 3rd curfew. However, one medical expert, Dr Yong Poovorawan of Chulalongkorn University says that it will take quite a while to eliminate the threat of this virus while the severe psychological and economic impact on both Thai nationals and millions of foreigners in the kingdom of the shutdown grows.

Dr Yong Poovorawan of Chulalongkorn University still feels that there is a way to go to eliminate the virus and described the statistics so far as still unsatisfactory. He acknowledges that the government has been effective in reducing the spread of the disease but insists that it will take some time yet to eliminate the viral threat. It comes as Thais and foreigners alike begin to feel the strain of the stringent control efforts which have impinged on the population both psychologically and economically. On Monday, three young women attempted a joint suicide by jumping into the Chao Phraya River. Two of them died.

The latest life claimed by this simple yet evil coronavirus was a 54-year-old man who contracted the disease at a party in the Thonglor area of Bangkok.

On March 13th he came down with exhaustion and his condition worsened the next day. He was admitted to hospital and immediately placed on a ventilator.

An x-ray showed that the man had developed a severe case of pneumonia and tests confirmed that he was infected with the virus.

The man succumbed on Monday due to acute breathing difficulties and failure of the respiratory tract.

Thailand winning its war with the virus

Thailand, however, appears to be winning the war against the coronavirus even as the death toll mounts. 

On Tuesday, the kingdom announced just 38 new infections. The Covid 19 centre identified 17 of these, mostly in Bangkok that were associated with previous patients.

The figure for infections for the day previously was 51.

The number of new infections had peaked at 188 on the 22nd March, 4 days before the state of emergency was declared.

Hospitalisations are a very good indicator of Thailand’s Covid 19 emergency status and progress

A key figure in the data updated daily by the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand is for hospitalisations which actually rose six places overnight but are showing a moderating growth curve.

The figure declined from a peak of 1,472 on the 5th April, two days ago and now stands at 1,407.

Government hints that a more severe lockdown cab be avoided if the public stays the course

Government sources in the last 48 hours are suggesting that if the public continues to observe the social distancing efforts and the curfew now in effect, it may be quite possible to avoid an extended curfew or even a full lockdown in Bangkok which is still at the centre of the outbreak in Thailand.

‘The lower number of daily new cases and the slower increase in accumulated patients apparently resulted from the nationwide curfew starting on April 3,’ said Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, the politely spoken medical expert who the Thai public have come to place trust in since the Covid 19 Administration Centre effectively took over the battle against the virus on March 26th directed by the Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha.

Live TV boxing events on March 6th detonated a viral bomb in Bangkok driven by a returnee from Italy

One of the main drivers of Thailand’s epidemic has been a televised boxing meet on March 6th in Ramintra northeast of Bangkok organised by the Lumpini Boxing stadium. 

The now infamous event was organised by a senior army officer who has since been transferred to another post.

The event and the officer’s role in it are the subjects of an intensive and high-level investigation now underway.

The boxing show acted as a nuclear bomb for the virus as it exploded into the population. It is reported that a returned Thai national from Italy was the main spreader of the viral infection at the event from which effects are still being felt.

Another factor in the Thai Covid 19 spread as the incident illustrated, has been returning travellers from foreign countries such as Italy, the UK, Spain and France.

Foreigners and tourists in Thailand have been put under the spotlight over the Covid 19 virus

The concern for foreigners in Thailand is that a key aspect of the outbreak in the kingdom and the key focus of many efforts at provincial and local government level has been on Thailand’s entrainment and tourist industries particularly tourist hotspots which during this crisis, with the exception of Chiang Mai in the north, have become synonymous with Covid 19 hotspots. 

In Bangkok itself, the adult entertainment centres in the city and indeed its pubs and nightlife scene have been identified by the government as key flashpoints for the spread of the disease.

Outside Bangkok, the leading provinces hit by the virus have been Nonthaburi, Phuket and Chonburi all associated with large expat and foreign tourist populations.

SET rose 5.3% on Tuesday as investors saw strong signs of hope both in Thailand and worldwide

On Tuesday, Thailand’s stock exchange, the SET posted a 5.3% gain as investors signalled that they saw light at the end of the tunnel.

The rally was buoyed by reports of a pickup in oil prices and indications of progress from the hardest-hit western countries including the United States, Italy and Spain.

Passenger flights now banned until April 18th

Despite this, Thailand extended its ban on all incoming commercial passenger flights until at least April 18th to strengthen the country’s grip on what looks like clear progress in defeating the disease.

Leading medic acknowledges good work done and progress made but warns it will take more time

This progress in fighting the virus outbreak was confirmed on Tuesday by Dr Yong Poovorawan, an expert virologist at Chulalongkorn University who last month had dire warnings for the government about the epidemic.

He attributed a slowdown in the spread of the virus to the government’s action in recent weeks. However, he was still not fully satisfied with the statistics surrounding the situation.

Dr Yong said last week that the infectiousness of the virus had dropped to 1.5 from 2.5 from the announcement of the state of emergency. However, he felt that this figure must be brought down further to at least 1.1.

He indicated that wiping out the infection will take a considerably longer timeframe to achieve.

Psychological and economic impact on both Thais and foreigners continues to be very severe

This may test the patience of the Thai public who are already feeling the psychological effects of one of the greatest social disruptions the kingdom has seen in its history.

This was brought into focus clearly on Monday when three university students, reported as cousins sharing a flat near the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok, attempted to commit suicide by throwing themselves into the Chao Phraya River from Rama VIII bridge in Bangkok.

Two of the women, aged 20, were rescued from the river but one died from drowning at the scene.

Only one of the three women survived the joint suicide attempt and was treated by medics before being taken to hospital. She was taken to Siriraj Hospital with a high temperature and tested for the Covid 19 virus.

It took rescue workers two hours to retrieve the third woman’s body.

Further reading:

Virus may be partially airborne and Minister right in face mask fracas according to new US research

Health Minister in an outburst against western foreigners as 7 more are infected by the coronavirus

‘Zero’ – nationwide curfew announced on TV by the PM as the government steps up virus fight

24-hour curfew in the works as the government puts curbs on national travel with checkpoints on roads

Emergency could be extended as more people present themselves at hospitals due to the coronavirus

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

See Thai virus data here courtesy of the Thai Ministry of Public Health