Cabinet approves plans to close schools, postpone Songkran

Cabinet approves plans to close schools, postpone Songkran

Students wearing protective masks attend an admission exam for the Triam Udom Suksa School, a state upper-secondary school that has the largest enrollment in the country, at Impact Forum in Bangkok on March 5, 2020. (Reuters photo)
Students wearing protective masks attend an admission exam for the Triam Udom Suksa School, a state upper-secondary school that has the largest enrollment in the country, at Impact Forum in Bangkok on March 5, 2020. (Reuters photo)

The cabinet has approved measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus ranging from 14-day closure of schools and universities and the postponement of next month's Songkran New Year holiday.

To contain the situation in stage 2 of the outbreak as long as possible, the cabinet will restrict certain activities.

According to the Public Health Ministry, in stage 1 of an outbreak, all cases are imported, with no local transmission.

In stage 2, local cases are found from contact with foreigners or Thais who became infected in a risk country. There is no transmission among local people who have never been to risk countries.

In stage 3, the number of cases increases rapidly, with local transmission among those with no history of travel to risk countries.  

The measures announced on Tuesday cover six areas:

Health

Foreigners coming from the six places defined as Covid-19 infected zones  — South Korea, China, Macau, Hong Kong, Italy and Iran — regardless of transport modes, must have health certificates issued in previous three days and health insurance coverage. They must also agree to install and use an official monitoring mobile application.

The measures also apply to those coming from places with ongoing transmission — France, Spain, United States, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Britain, Japan and Germany.   

This group must have accommodation in Thailand where they can be reached.

Both groups will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine. No more details are provided at this stage.

In addition to foreign visitors, all inbound Thais are to use the app. Those staying abroad are also urged not to return home during this time.

All civil servants and state officials must not go abroad except for emergencies. They must also instruct people to refrain from going to risk and contagious places.


Medical supplies

To cope with the spread in the impending Stage 3, adequate medical personnel, equipment and supplies must be procured.

The production of face masks and hand sanitisers will be ramped up. A campaign will be held to urge people to use cloth masks in public places instead of surgical masks.

Face masks seized as evidence in court cases will be added to the supply to be distributed later.

Online trade of the products must be monitored to prevent hoarding.


Information

The Public Health Ministry gives only medical and health information while the Covid-19 Information Centre gives the overall picture in all aspects.  


Foreign affairs

The Foreign Ministry will set up “Team Thailand Covid-19” in each country to take care of Thais there, to be led by ambassadors.


Preventive measures

Universities, tutorial schools and all educational institutions in Greater Bangkok will be closed for two weeks from Wednesday.

Boxing arenas, stadiums, horse racing tracks in Greater Bangkok will also be closed until the situation improved.

Pubs, entertainment venues, service places and theatres in Greater Bangkok will be closed for 14 days.

During the closures, action must be taken to clean the places and implement preventive measures. 

Provincial governors and communicable disease committees will consider suspending concerts, trade fairs, religious and cultural activities and sports events in their provinces.

Malls, markets, restaurants, public offices and state enterprises remain open but are instructed to take preventive measures such as surface cleaning or use of thermo scanners.

Songkran holiday (April 13-15) will be delayed until further notice.

Frequencies of public transport services will be increased to avoid congestion.

Inter-provincial mass movements such as by military personnel must be avoided, including those of migrant workers.

Government offices will adopt overlapping working hours and home-working and use technology such as teleconferencing.

Provincial governors and Bangkok governor may restrict movements and impose measures to reduce risks as they see fit as empowered under the Disease Control Act.

A disease control operation unit will be set up in every district and village with participation from the private sector.


Remedies

Related agencies will come up with measures to help businesses such as hotels or factories if the operators are asked to delay layoffs.

Financial institutions will be asked to help people with instalment payments burden, as well as small vendors, daily-wage earners and farmers.


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