Lockdown, or not?
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) is arriving at another decision point.
The new outbreak has shown no signs of slowing down. Apart from the cluster in Samut Sakhon, another hub was found in Rayong, where the number of infections linked to the gambling den saga continue to rise.
From Dec 15 until Monday, local infections were reported in 43 provinces, with new cases growing by more than a hundred for days. Bangkok was put under stricter control after the number of new infections from the latest outbreak soared past 90 last Monday.
The City Hall's communicable disease board ordered horse racing courses, cockfighting forums, bullfighting arenas, fighting fish clubs and entertainment venues to be temporarily closed. The situation is indeed worrisome.
Even more so considering the possibility that more sources of infections could be unknown to authorities -- underground venues like the gambling den in Rayong.
Are we sure that was the only gambling den in the country? What if there are others that remain open to customers?
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha may have ordered state agencies to clamp down on the illegal smuggling of migrant workers.
But who knows whether the secret border crossings have been stopped?
The coming New Year holidays pose another concern. The festive season means travelling and partying.
While both activities are allowed so long as they are done among known friends and family with proper distancing, risks remain.
It's understandable the situation has prompted some people, including celebrities, to come out and voice their support for a full, possibly nationwide lockdown.
Their rationale is the strict control of people's movement and activities may cause yet another episode of economic meltdown but the pain would be worth it if the disease is stopped.
How can anyone be completely confident the lockdown will stamp out the epidemic entirely?
The negative impacts of the lockdown are clear and still present. The toll is not just evident on a macro-economic level, but it is also seen and felt in the daily suffering of people struggling to live.
The government and CCSA must have reviewed the lessons from last time and realised how enormous the effects of the lockdown was on ordinary people.
That is why they opted for a more decentralised, proportionate response by classifying outbreak areas into zones and allowing the governor of each province to come up with disease control measures.
The central assumption for the approach is that most people have now learned about the nature of the disease and how it can be contracted. If they protect themselves, then the outbreak can be curbed.
Self-protection is not difficult. The guidelines of cleaning your hands often with soap or alcohol-based hand rub, maintaining a safe distance, wearing a mask in public and refraining from touching your eyes, nose and mouth remain effective, according to doctors.
It's true that the government and CCSA will have to make a decision on what to do next if the outbreak continues to grow.
However, as the holidays will soon start, it is also up to each and every one of us to do our best to protect ourselves and loved ones from the disease. In doing so, we will be protecting ourselves from yet another damaging lockdown.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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