Government spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat said yesterday (Mar 20) Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has asked for cooperation, especially from those living in Bangkok and adjacent provinces, to refrain from going out.
As for calls by some people for lockdowns, the spokesperson said measures must be prepared well before time, and those people who earn daily incomes must also be considered.
“The prime minister has asked people to stay home. In this period, we would like Thai people to stay at home. Before we make the order, we are now asking for cooperation. After this, the situation will be evaluated if we don’t receive cooperation,” she said adding that there are options to consider such as what times or how many hours people could be barred from going out.
Ms Narumon’s remarks came after Thursday’s meeting of agencies working on tackling the spread of COVID-19. Former public health minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, public health permanent secretary Sukhum Kanchanapimai and deans of universities’ medical schools took part.
The doctors said that, using mathematical model calculations, maintaining the current measures would see up to 351,948 COVID-19 patients in Thailand while more than 52,000 would be hospitalised with over 17,000 in intensive care and 7,000 deaths.
However, from a simulation, lockdown measures would reduce the number of patients to 24,269 with 3,640 in hospitals including 1,213 in ICU and 485 deaths, an informed source said citing the doctors’ remarks.
Dr Patarawan Woratanarat, head of Orthopaedic Department, Mahidol University Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, agreed with lockdowns.
“It is the golden period right now. We have rather a small number of infected people but the number is rising,” Dr Patarawan said.
“If we choose to be strict like Singapore and Hong Kong, close crowded places such as schools and lock down the country, the number of patients will increase mildly, and the total number of patients will be low. We will have enough medical personnel and equipment to take care of patients,” she said.
The Public Health Ministry yesterday reported 50 new COVID-19 cases, 18 of them linked to boxing stadiums and 12 to contact with previous patients, raising the national total to 322. One new patient is a six-month-old baby.
Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul yesterday said the World Health Organization had praised Thailand’s response in handling the COVID-19 crisis after a meeting with Dr Daniel Kertesz, the WHO representative to Thailand.
The ministry is also advising people to follow social distancing as it is an effective method of disease control.