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Health Ministry to pitch tougher curbs

BANGKOK: The Public Health Ministry will today (Jan 7) propose tougher government measures to curb the latest coronavirus outbreak posed by a rapid increase of Omicron infections.

By Bangkok Post

Friday 7 January 2022, 09:06AM

Anutin: Not waiting to take action. Photo: Bangkok Post

Anutin: Not waiting to take action. Photo: Bangkok Post

The proposal, which is up for consideration by the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), includes tightening the quarantine system and banning alcohol consumption in restaurants, reports the Bangkok Post.

Anutin Charnvirakul, deputy prime minister and public health minister, said his ministry has stepped up measures to fight the outbreak.

The CCSA will be asked to ban alcohol consumption - which is considered a risk factor in the spread of the virus - in areas with severe infections and review outbreak zoning based on a colour-coded system to identify provinces hit by the latest outbreak, he said.

Moreover, all returnees and arrivals from abroad will be quarantined, the minister said.

“We will not wait seven to 10 days for an actual number of infections to emerge after the festive holiday [before taking action],” Anutin said.

“However, the number of deaths will be low due to large numbers of people already getting vaccinated,” he added. “We will evaluate the situation before making a decision on whether to shutter some activities.”

The Public Health Ministry decided to raise the nation’s COVID-19 alert level from 3 to 4 after new coronavirus infections jumped to 5,775 over the previous 24 hours yesterday from 3,899 the day before.

Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, said raising the warning level encourages people to work from home, suspend travel plans, close at-risk areas and limit the number of people at gatherings.

“We are seeing a fast outbreak this time,” he said. “There are several provinces that have (multiple new daily cases), including 769 cases in Chon Buri and 454 in Bangkok.

“So we do need to raise the warning to level 4,” Dr Kiattiphum said.

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Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said new infections could surpass 10,000 a day, based on the rise in infections reported yesterday.

People are strongly advised to postpone non-essential trips to other provinces and countries, Dr Opas said.

“Public transport should be avoided for [non-essential] interprovincial trips,” he said.

Gen Supoj Malaniyom, head of operations at the CCSA and secretary-general of the National Security Council, said he will present a raft of measures during today’s CCSA meeting, including travel curbs and home and community isolation.

Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said he would disagree if the government decided to introduce lockdowns again.

“The Thai Chamber of Commerce disagrees if the government reimposes lockdowns on all activities in the country,” Mr Sanan said. “Any more lockdowns will not only cause a huge damage to the economy, but will also dampen public confidence.

“Several sectors have just regained their hope of restarting and are going ahead with their businesses this year, and people are resuming their normal lives,” he said. “Any further lockdown would put the country back at square one.”

He said most people in Thailand have been vaccinated and the country’s public health system can handle new patients.

Mr Sanan said the government should step up measures to contain the disease in at-risk provinces, such as increasing hospital beds for severe cases and bringing back home and community isolation.

The private sector is also ready to enforce the bubble-and-seal system for facilities hit by infections, he said, adding the private sector has agreed for staff to work from home for at least two weeks to curb transmission.

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Kurt | 07 January 2022 - 10:14:55

Further import of Omicron is 'not needed', there is already enough Omicron in Thailand to spread it rapidly domestic.

Kurt | 07 January 2022 - 10:11:47

If the Public Health Ministry raise the Covid warning from level 3 -->4, than counts that too for Phuket, despite Governor's saying to 'keep the island open'. Anyway, no alcohol servings at Bangla Rd will be ok. Than it gets quiet there as nobody goes there for a coca cola,. Making the quarantine for all arrivals again 10 days will dampen arrivals again and stop further import of Om...


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