90% cut in travel targeted

90% cut in travel targeted

Reducing trips 'key' to containing spread

Commuters on board a Chao Phraya Express boat on Wednesday. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
Commuters on board a Chao Phraya Express boat on Wednesday. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

The government has come up with a goal to cut public journeys by as much as 90% in order to "flatten the curve" of new coronavirus infections.

The plan was proposed by army chief Gen Apirat Kongsomgpong at Monday's meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration(CCSA), according to CCSA spokesman Tawee­sin Visanuyothin.

Compared to March 21, the number of journeys made by the public one week later on Saturday had decreased by 46% after the government began implementing measures to encourage members of the public not to take unnecessary trips, Dr Taweesin told media at Government House after the CCSA meeting.

Personal car use fell by 41% while the number of electric train passengers had fallen by 59% during the same period, he said.

The number of inter-city train passengers had dropped by 65% while the number of boat passengers had come down by 40%, he added.

"We will have to continue asking for more public cooperation to achieve the 90% travel cut goal to flatten the curve of new infections. So far we've only achieved a 40% cut on average," Dr Taweesin said.

"The key to success in communicating with members of the public during this crisis is keeping them well informed and updated about the outbreak situation in the country via social media."

Thailand on Monday recorded a total of 136 new infections, bringing the accumulated number of confirmed cases to 1,524, with two more deaths.

Dr Anupong Suchariyakul, a specialist of the Disease Control Department, said one was a Thai man, 54, who had visited Malaysia and later been admitted to a hospital in Yala. The other was a Thai woman, 56, who had suffered from pneumonia brought on by the infection and been admitted to a private hospital in Bangkok.

The number of new infections was marginally lower than the 143 reported on Sunday.

Of the total 1,524 cases, Dr Anupong said, 1,297 were Thai and 227 were foreigners. The largest cluster of patients -- 715 -- was in Bangkok. The average age of all patients was 40.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had stressed the importance of strengthening public cooperation to contain the spread of the virus which has now reached as far as Phuket, Yala, Pattani, Chon Buri, Ubon Ratchathani and Sa Kaeo, said Dr Taweesin.

The accumulated number of confirmed cases, however, remained significantly lower than in the US, Italy, China, Iran and neighbouring Malaysia, he said.

"The number of patients in other provinces is growing faster than Bangkok… Cases in Thailand are increasing at a similar pace to Malaysia … People must cooperate with disease control measures," Dr Taweesin said.

He said that the government was maintaining restrictions on people's movements in four southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Phuket and Yala. Beaches were off-limits and people were ordered to stay home from 8pm to 3am in Phuket, he added.

Meanwhile, Bang Len Hospital in Nakhon Pathom has been closed for 30 days and 24 medical personnel and patients put under quarantine after they were found to have come into contact with a Covid-19 patient.

Pongsathon Sirisakhon, deputy governor for Nakhon Pathom, said the closure had been ordered after they came into contact with a patient who had failed to reveal that she had been in close contact with a confirmed case in Bangkok and later tested positive herself.

He said the facility will be closed for 30 days for out-patient services and will receive only emergency cases.

According to the deputy governor, the 56-year-old female patient came to the hospital on Friday with a cough but gave no details about her friend who had tested positive for the virus. The patient's daughter later provided the information on Saturday and the patient was tested for Covid-19.

After the infection was confirmed on Sunday, 22 medical personnel -- two doctors, 13 nurses and seven other staff -- and two patients who were in the same room were put into isolation for 14 days and will be tested for the coronavirus.

The government spokesman's office has asked media outlets not to send reporters to Government House but follow announcements given by the prime minister and other cabinet ministers via live streaming.

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