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April 2020 : Thailand Fights COVID-19

  • Thailand Fights COVID-19
  • ASEAN to set up COVID-19 Respond fund
  • Kla party registered with 642 members

    Thailand fights Covid-19

    Following the State of Emergency applied nationwide since 22 March, numbers of new Covid-19 confirmed cases gradually declined from more than 100 per day to a one digit for four consecutively days, and to the lowest of 7 new cases on 30 April. This made total number of confirmed cases 2,954, with total 2,687 patients remedied and discharged, currently hospitalized 213 and 54 deceased on 30 April.

    However, the State of Emergency was extended to May ends to ensure the curve definitely flatten.

  • Becoming a national agenda

  • On 7 April, PM Prayut made Covid-19 a national agenda and asked all societal sectors to unite in fighting the virus. Specific measures would be issued by central and/or local authorities. He assured public health is the most important and every measure would be implemented to achieve goal.

  • 14-day quarantine

  • In March, people travelling in and into Thailand were asked to self-quarantine at home for 14 days but the wide spread of infectious from the boxing stadium made the government set up places for state and local quarantine particularly those coming from abroad. They must obtain a medical certificate and foreigners must have health insurance.

  • Airports shut down

  • The Foreign Affairs Ministry set up Team Thailand in every Thai embassy to facilitate Thais citizens to return home. They were allowed to come on condition they are Fit-2-Fly; having normal temperature on the last ten day before flying. On 3 April, two groups flied from Japan and USA, among a handful of hundreds, some few opposed to go the state quarantine and slipped away. Though all of them came back the day after, the Airport Authority of Thailand temporarily shut down Suwannabhumi International Airport that night and until 6 April. The air ports shut down measure was applied to all air ports and extended to 30 April 2020.

    Exceptional are State or Military aircrafts, Emergency landing, Technical landing with no passenger leaving the aircraft, humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights, Repatriation and Cargo aircrafts.

    Due to the sudden halt policy of several airlines, many incoming Thais were shut in several air ports. Thai embassies coordinated to provide aids and find carriers to bring them home. They were taken to state quarantine for 14 days before seeing families.

    The 14-day state and local quarantine are provided without charge to everyone regardless to nationality or racial.

  • Restriction of In-bound travelers

  • Due to a sharply increased of confirmed cases from abroad, in-bound traveling was retarded on both Thais and foreigners and they must meet all requirements issued by the embassies. This led to a petition filed from one Thai in Ireland to the Administrative Court asking the court to nullify the restrictions. The petition was acquitted on 2 April since the Administrative Court reasoned the complaint should be filed to the court of justice.

  • Close down of some public venues

  • On 2 April, a nationwide curfew between22:00-04:00 hrs. was applied and provincial governors were authorized to close down public places that might cause a super spread of Covid-19; boxing stadium, horse racing, arena, playground, entertainment, spa, fitness, beauty salon, department store ( except super market and food stall) etc. However, hospitals, clinic, drug store, restaurant (for take home), convenient store (certain opening hours), Factory, bank, food and necessity market and petro station are encouraged to normally service.

    A Work From Home (WFH) policy was also encouraged to be adopted to private and public offices. Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) halted all services except birth/death registration, providing household/ ID/ marriage and divorce certifications. Besides these services, an emergency request would be considered by cases. Expired IDs were allowed to be valid until 31 July and lost ID could apply for copy from near district office.

    BMA became the first to prohibit selling of alcohol drinks, retail and wholesale, 24 hours between 10-20 April, and extended until April ended. The prohibitions were followed in every province.

  • Exceptions

  • The 22:00 - 04:00 hrs. Curfew was not applied to some few professionals and service workers; medical, financing, logistic of goods/ agriculture/ medicine/ medical equipment/ newspaper/ petroleum/ postal/ import & export goods/transportation of people to quarantine venue, night security, and airport transfer. They must carry documents to certify their missions.

  • Local responsibility

  • An influx of Thais from neighboring countries required for local quarantine in some provinces. They should meet the state run standards. Local people must be informed on the situation. Provincial governors are authorized to issue measures to prevent goods hording and logistic planning to prevent goods and food shortage. Daily report must be sent to the Interior Ministry by 18:00 hr.

  • Area Lockdown

  • An area lockdown were applied in some province of sharp increase case by the Governors issuant. Residents were required to stay within the designated area. Permit must be obtained when travelling across the check point.

  • New school term starts 1 July

  • The cabinet approved the Education Ministry proposal to defer the opening of the new school term from the middle of May to July 1.

    Classroom learning as well as outdoor, extra-curricular activities will be adapted to suit the virus prevention measures.

  • Fiscal measures

  • The government enacted laws to mitigate the impact from Covid-19 outbreak, as follow:
    1. An executive decree to borrow THB 1 trillion to boost the economy
    a. THB 600 billion to ease peoples plight for 6 months, to help farmers, and support public health services.
    b. THB 400 billion plan to strengthen the community economy, and boost local infrastructure development.

    2. An executive decree to authorize the Bank of Thailand (BOT) to issue soft loans to help businesses
    a. THB 500 billion of loans at a 2% interest rate to SMEs
    b. A 6-month debt moratorium on principal and interest for SMEs, for loan not exceeding THB 100 million

    3. An executive decree to set up a THB 400 billion corporate bond liquidity stabilization fund to backstop the corporate bond market

    4. Enact legislation to transfer budgets worth THB 80-100 billion from ministries to finance measures to handle the Covid-19 outbreak

    The laws are effective on 19 April. THB 1.9 trillion accounts for 9% of the countrys GDP.

    Previously, the cabinet approved the first stimulus package on March 10 2020 worth THB 400 billion, followed by the second package worth THB 117 billion on 24 March 2020 to increase liquidity for businesses and individuals.

  • Contingency cash for provinces increased

  • Crisis contingency cash for 77 provinces has increased to THB 50 million and the governors are empower to use for the purchase of medical equipment/ supplies, medicine, allowances for personals working in risk area and others as deem appropriate.

  • New 40,000 public health workers

  • On 3 April, the cabinet resolved to approve the Public Health Ministry to add new 45,242 positions of public health officials for the prevention and control of Covid-19 infections.

  • Cash handouts for the unemployed

  • Unemployed workers not covered by the Social Security Fund (SSF) due to Covid-19 shall be given THB 5,000 a month for three months. They are street food sellers, taxi drivers, household assistants etc. 24-hour online registration could be made from 28 March to 30 June.

    Unemployed workers covered by SSF shall be given 50% of their wages for up to 6 months.

  • Financial aids for businesses

  • Loans up to THB 3 million for SMEs at 3% interest rate for the first two years.

    Exemption of import duty for products related to the precention and treatment of Covid-19.

    The Social Security Office (SSO) s measures to promote employment, including THB 30 billion in soft loans starting at 3% interest for SSO-registered entrepreneurs.

    Ect.

  • Debt moratorium for the elderly

  • On 10 April, the National Committee for the Elderly (NCE) resolved to grant a 1-year debt moratorium, from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, to the Elderly Fund debtors. The fund has approximately 41,000 members and they must directly apply with the NCL office or through the provincial social development and human security offices..

  • 2.3 million Masks delivered nationwide

  • The cabinet resolved to allocate THB 801 million to purchase 2.3 million face masks to be delivered by post office to healthcare workers and households nationwide. Delivery starts in April and expected to finish in October 2020.

    Currently Thailand can produce 2.3 million masks per day and expects to increase to 2.8 million in May.

  • Religious mass gathering banned

  • The National Office of Buddhism issued an order to ban all religious activities that create mass gathering, including celebration of Songkran festivity on 13-15 April, to prevent virus spread. The Songkran holiday was postponed and an alternative holiday will be considered later.

    The Office of Sheikhul Islam announced religious practices in Ramadan, such as prayer, must be done in residence to prevent mass gathering in mosques that could spread virus.

    On 10 April, 111 Thais, from 5 southern provinces, Songkla, Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Satun, returned from Indonesia pilgrimage, Dawah, undergone standard screening procedures were sent to local quarantine places. Among them 52 had high fever and later 42 had tested positive.

    Hundreds of Thai Muslims went to Dawah in several countries; India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia. They were locked down abroad accordingly to Covid-19 measures in each country. On 28 April, Thai embassy in India facilitate the first 200 people after all finished Indian measures 1-month quarantine.

    However, inbound passengers caused the number of Covid-19 cases rose sharply particularly in the southernmost provinces in April.

  • Senate returned unused budget

  • On 22 April, the House of Senate resolved to donate THB 10 million to the Chai Pattana Fund against Covid-19. Another THB 93.3 million (25% of the unused budget) will be returned the Budget Bureau as well as THB 67.5 million unused expenditures on travelling, THB 25.8 million on other activities.

  • State offices to return 10% unused budget

  • The cabinet resolved all state offices to return 10% of their remaining budget of the 2020 fiscal year.

    The Thai Army readjusted their budget and returned 30%.

    The National Police Office also slashed down THB 657 million.

  • MoI officers donation

  • On 17 April, the high rank officers, including retirees, and network of the Interior Ministry agreed to donate 50% of their salaries for 3 months to set up a fund to help people unable to access state assistance or non-conforming with official regulations.

  • 2021 Fiscal Budget readjusted

  • On 21 April, the cabinet acknowledged a readjustment of the 2021 Fiscal Budget plan to handle the Covid-19 outbreak.

  • Political unity

  • On 1 April, Opposition party leader Sompong Amornwiwat wrote on his Facebook that the opposition wing shall support the government in all means to pass through this hardest situation.

    However, daily comments were made from some opposition parties members on the inefficiency and mismanagement of the 5,000 baht cash handout program, lack of freedom due to the state of emergency, educational deprivation due to schools closing, poverty and suicidal.

    However, on 12 April, party list MP and spokesperson of Bhumjaithai Party Sethapong Malisuwan said its members shall cooperate with every party to get through this virus situation.

  • Unemployment

  • On 5 April, the Employers Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry disclosed its evaluation that in March and April 2020, more than 6.5 million workers had been laid off.

    Those covered by the Social Security Fund (SSF) will get an unemployment compensation 70% of their wages for not exceeding than 200 days. The voluntary leaving will get 45% of wages for a maximum of 90 days.

    Force majeure such as 14-day quarantine due to associated with infectious people or temporarily closing by official order, workers can apply for compensations from the social security office.

  • Cash handouts for the disable

  • On 28 April, the cabinet approved the Social Development and Human Security Ministry proposal to grant an extra 1,000 baht to 2 million disable people.

    Monthly allowance 800 baht for those over 18 years of age, totaled 120,000 persons, will be increased to 1,000 baht starting from 1 October 2020.

  • Agriculture sectors

  • Farmers and fishing industry workers registered with the Agriculture Ministry will get 5,000 baht cash per household for 3 months starting from May until July. It is estimated that a total of THB 150 billion will be used for this cash handouts.

    Unregistered workers can register online to the Agriculture Promotion Department as well as workers who want to update their information.

  • Teachers debt moratorium

  • On 29 April, the Office of the Teacher Civil Service and Education Personnel Commission (OTEPC) announced a debt moratorium, and no interest payment for 3 months, to good debtors meeting set requirements.

  • Insurances for health workers

  • Mr. Keeree Kanjanapas chairman of BTS Group Holding Public Company Limited hand over THB 60 million worth Live insurance policy for medical and health care personals. Another THB 10 million cash was also given to 400,000 public health personals and 1,040,000 volunteers to boost their moral.

  • Cost of Covid-19 treatment

  • On 24 April, spokesperson of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyithin disclosed that total treatment cost for each patient is approximately THB 1 million until recover. The country has spent quite a sum of money on remediation and must carefully decide on lifting or loosen the implemented measures regardless of comments from some people. The lifting of measures could result in another outbreak that will be costly.

  • Thais abroad want to come home

  • Hundreds of thousand Thais are living all over the globe and some of them, mostly students and workers wanted to come home due to the Covid-19 outbreak caused hardship to their lives. Anyone wanting to come back were required to register with Thai embassies. By mid April, 8,998 people, in 14 countries has registered and they were scheduled to return in May.

    On 24 April, 342 Buddhist pilgrimage, monks and lay people, from India and Nepal came in by arranged 2 charter flights. They finished the Indian measures 1-month quarantine and would have another 14-day quarantine in Thailand.

  • Natural passages

  • On 23 April, 144 Thai workers from Malaysia returned by airplane in but thousands are remained in Malaysia. Some went to the border and during 18-20 April, 832 immigrants had crossed several custom checkpoints. 157 are legal returnees but the rest, 672, smuggled through natural passages. All were sent to local quarantine places in the 4 southernmost provinces.

  • Unemployed wanted to return home

  • The Phuket governor had issued an order barring people and vehicles from leaving and entering the island in April and later issued several sub-districts lockdown. Exemptions were air travel, transportation of food and essential items, fuel, construction materials, medical equipment, rescue operations vehicles, ambulances, vehicles for state operations, and vehicles carrying publications.

    The lockdown resulted in closing of hotels and resorts in Phuket following by unemployment of service workers, mostly from other provinces. Phuket local authorities required a registration for every workers wanted to cross the province. More than 14,000 people registered.

  • Tourists stranded in Phuket

  • On 8 April, the Phuket Immigration Police Office disclosed more than 3,000 tourist were locked in Phuket due to the airport closure. The police contacted their consulates for help and France was the first country to send a charter flight to take their citizens.

    Phuket international airport was closed on 10 April until 30 April and extended until 15 May 2020.

    The Thai government automatically extended all types of temporary stay visas through 31 July 2020

  • Emergency extended until 31 May 2020

  • Regardless to the new confirmed cases of Covid-19 were declining from mid to end of April, the government decided to extend the State of Emergency from 1 to 31 May 2020. While some measures are still imposed; a nationwide curfew between 22:00-04:00 hr., control of air inbound travelling, cross provincial travelling, and banning of mass gathering, some measure would be ease since 4 May. Special conditions would be announced for each places and services.

  • Worldwide Covid-19 cases

  • As of 30 April 2020, authorities in 213 countries and territories reported a total of 3,219,240 novel coronavirus worldwide, with 228,194 deaths and 1,000,101 remedied.

    The top five of most confirmed cases and remedied were:

                USA 1,064,194 cases : Deaths 61,656 : Remedied 147,411

                Spain 236,899 cases : Deaths 24,275 : Remedied 132,929

                Italy 203,591 cases : Deaths 27,682 : Remedied 71,252

                France 166,420 cases : Deaths 24,087 : Remedied 48,228

                UK 165,221 cases : Deaths 26,097 : Remedied not report

    ASEAN to set up COVID-19 Respond Fund

    On 14 April, PM Prayut Chan-ocha attended the Special ASEAN Summit and the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on Covid-19 video conference. Thailand proposed to set up the fund to finance the purchase of medical equipment for ASEAN members and to support researches for Covid-19 medicine and vaccine development. The initiative will be the start of the groupings concrete cooperation on Covid-19 response.

    Kla Party registered with 642 members

    On 1 April, Kla Party submitted documents to register as a new political party at the Election Commission Office. The partys leader is Korn Chatikavanij and Atavit Suwannapakdee is secretary-general. Both resigned from Democrat Party to form a new party. Founding capital is 1,461,690.07 baht and starting members are 642.
     


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