33 new infections as Songkran postponed

33 new infections as Songkran postponed

Children take part in a water war during the Songkran festival in Soi Sukhumvit 101 on April 14, 2018. The government plans to postpone the holiday this year to control the spread of the new coronavirus. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Children take part in a water war during the Songkran festival in Soi Sukhumvit 101 on April 14, 2018. The government plans to postpone the holiday this year to control the spread of the new coronavirus. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Songkran holidays and celebrations will be postponed until further notice as the number of cases continued to rise by 33 to 147.

April 13-15 are no longer official holidays this year, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said during a briefing on Monday afternoon.

New dates will be later announced well in advance later for the long holiday, he said.

Some public places and events will be temporarily closed, especially those that involve talks and crowded gatherings such as universities or schools, theatres or stadiums for some sports.

At the briefing, public health officials reported 33 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 147, compared to 114 on Sunday.

Of the total, 108 remained hospitalised, 36 were discharged and one died.

Sixteen of the new cases had come into contact with confirmed patients and 17 were new confirmed cases from abroad or those who worked closely with foreigners.

Officials insisted Thailand remains in the second stage — limited local transmission that can be traced back to the sources, making control manageable. The third stage involves community transmission.

Mr Wissanu said the government was preparing to cope with Stage 3.

In terms of medical care, more beds will be provided. Doctors and nurses, both retired and active, from the public and private sectors, as well as volunteers with medical knowledge will be contacted in case of emergency. Compensation for medical workers will be approved.

For medical gear, the local production of face masks is being ramped up close to 2 million pieces. Besides, according to the Foreign Ministry, some countries are willing to help provide more as needed. Hand sanitiser production will also be increased to meet the demand.

Mr Wissanu added over past few months, millions of overpriced and smuggled face masks were seized and they could be added to the stock without damaging the cases.

There are also countries ready to help Thailand with medicine and medical equipment, said Mr Wissanu.

In terms of information, some 1,000 people called or complained to the Covid-19 hotline daily and their questions or concerns were being sent to related agencies.

He insisted the cancellations of visa on arrival for some countries did not affect foreign relations.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also wants to set up “Team Thailand” in each country led by Thai ambassadors to coordinate help for affected Thais abroad and report the situations to the government.

For preventive measures, the deputy prime minister said strictest measures had already been applied to risk places — China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Hong Kong and Macau.

For countries not at risk, the situation will be evaluated daily, but overall measures will be strict including ticketing. Checkup certificates not less than three days old is required. A visitor must have a health insurance policy and agree to install an application for monitoring purposes on their cell phones.

He did not mention the names of the apps but Digital Economy Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said on Thursday the government had launched "AOT Airports" so officials can reach visitors in case of emergency and "SydeKick for ThaiFightCOVID" for those in quarantine and Thai workers from risk places to keep track of them. He said the stored information would be deleted every 14 days.    

“The danger from Covid-19 is the nation’s priority,” Mr Wissanu said. “The economic damage is secondary. We need to make people’s lives the priority. We can try to cope with the damage to tourism and industries later when the situation eases.”

Thailand on Sunday reported its previous biggest daily spike in cases of the disease, a jump of 32, amid fears the kingdom is on the cusp of a larger outbreak. Many others were being tested for suspected infections.

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