The prime minister made the pledge yesterday (Sept 21) while presiding over a ceremony to transfer B3,500 each to over 1.05 million volunteers nationwide who worked to curb the initial outbreak, reports the Bangkok Post.
The B3.62 billion in special grants, directly transferred into individual bank accounts, was considered retroactive pay of B500 per month covering the period from March to September.
However, Gen Prayut did not say how much additional budget would be set aside for village health volunteers if the country has to cope with containing a fresh round of the virus.
During a meeting with village representatives from around the country at Muang Thong Thani’s exhibition hall in Nonthaburi province, Gen Prayut said that the government was thankful to the army of volunteers and promised to take care of all those who played a key role in Thailand’s successful containment of the pandemic that has swept across the world.
By this point, the government had already transferred payments into their bank accounts and Gen Prayut said he hoped that the money would be spent to stimulate the ailing economy.
“Without all of you, we would not be regarded as having one of the best public healthcare systems in the world. The key to our success has been prevention and that success is down to you [the health volunteers]. But we must not be careless. Further work is still needed to stop a second wave and the government is ready to take care of you for as long as the outbreak continues,” he said.
He urged those in the network to strongly communicate the message that nobody must let their guard drop as the threat of transmission still exists in their communities.
According to the ministry, village health volunteers worked to screen over 1.4 million families, as well as closely monitoring over one million at-risk people at the height of the domestic outbreak.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said to prevent the virus re-emerging, the volunteers must keep a close eye on foreign workers in particular.
He also reminded them that the economic impact has been severe and they must be alert to mental health issues caused by COVID-19-related business closures or losses of income.