Tougher Covid-19 measures take effect Sunday

Tougher Covid-19 measures take effect Sunday

Formally declaring virus 'dangerous' gives health officials more clout, as 42nd case confirmed

Workers from the Don Muang district office disinfect the house of an elderly couple and their eight-year-old grandson who tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a trip to Hokkaido, Japan. (File photo)
Workers from the Don Muang district office disinfect the house of an elderly couple and their eight-year-old grandson who tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a trip to Hokkaido, Japan. (File photo)

A Public Health Ministry announcement designating Covid-19 as a dangerous communicable disease will take effect on Sunday, giving authorities more weapons to combat the spread of the virus.

The announcement came as the ministry on Saturday confirmed one new infection, bringing the national total to 42.

The latest victim is a 21-year-old Thai salesman whose job brought him into contact with foreign tourists, said Sukhum Kanchanaphimai, the ministry’s permanent secretary.

The man became ill on Feb 24 and sought treatment for a fever and cough at a private hospital a day later. He is now being treated at Nopparatrajathanee Hospital in Kannayao district of Bangkok, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said at a daily news briefing.

The country has not yet had a death from the virus, although 28 patients have recovered and 14 are being treated in hospital.

The “dangerous communicable disease” announcement, signed by Mr Anutin, is based on provisions in Sections 5 and 6 of the Communicable Disease Act. It was published in the Royal Gazette on Saturday.

Earlier, the national committee on communicable diseases had agreed to list Covid-19 as a dangerous communicable disease, in order to allow health authorities to respond more quickly to contain the outbreak.

The announcement empowers officials to order people suspected of being infected with Covid-19 to undergo treatment and put them in quarantine, and to close venues affected by the coronavirus, among other measures. 

The ministry also announced plans to begin handing out free face masks on Monday, with 100,000 pieces a day, or a maximum of three per person, available. They will be distributed at the ministry compound in Nonthaburi.

On Friday, a vendor was charged with selling face masks at inflated prices during a check on shops in the Government Complex.

The vendor admitted selling masks at 100 baht for a package of five, but said the cost price was high and she cold not sell them for any less.

Face masks and hand-sanitising gel were categorised as price-controlled goods after demand skyrocketed in recent weeks.

Those found guilty of overcharging could face a fine of up to 140,000 baht and/or a jail term of up to seven years.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has posted a message on his Facebook page saying that the ministry will start handing out 100,000 face masks a day on Monday.


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