Virus gets 'dangerous disease' tag

Virus gets 'dangerous disease' tag

The national committee on communicable diseases has agreed to list Covid-19 as a dangerous communicable disease.

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who chaired the committee meeting, said on Monday the announcement will allow public health officials and authorities to enforce tougher rules to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.

The announcement will take effect one day after it is published in the Royal Gazette.

By designating the novel coronavirus as such, health officials can take more precautionary measures.

They can now prohibit public gatherings, shut down borders, impose travel bans, order suspected sufferers an carriers into quarantine at hospitals and allow the import of drugs which are yet to be registered in the country, but have shown the potential to fight the illness.

Those who fail to comply could be subject to a maximum fine of 20,000 baht.

The punishment is harsher for anyone who deliberately defies outbreak control regulations -- one year in prison and a 100,000-baht fine.

"We're in the second stage [of an outbreak] where contagion is still very limited, but we have to be ready to implement measures to keep it that way," Mr Anutin said.

He also said the move may prevent "super-spreaders" from infecting large numbers of people -- such as in South Korea, where a woman who tested positive for Covid-19 reportedly attended several public gatherings despite being ill and is believed to have infected dozens of people.

"We don't want to see that here," he added.

Covid-19 will be the 14th disease to get dangerous communicable disease status, after drug-resistant TB in 2018 and Mers and Sars in 2016.

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