Activists urge boost in markets' hygiene

Activists urge boost in markets' hygiene

Activists file their request at the Health Department in Nonthaburi province on Tuesday. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Activists file their request at the Health Department in Nonthaburi province on Tuesday. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Youth activists are urging the Department of Health to improve basic sanitation at fresh markets to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The coalition of activists including members of the People's Health Promotion Movement and the Youth's Risk Reduction Network on Tuesday petitioned department director-general Panpimol Wipulakorn and conveyed their request for the department to raise sanitation standards at markets.

Many people gather and interact there on a daily basis, which could raise the chances of virus transmission, they said.

Natthapong Sampaokaew, coordinator of the risk reduction group, said the department should make it a requirement for people, be they vendors and shoppers, to wear face masks at all times while at markets.

The department should also see to it that the shoppers and vendors practise social distancing by keeping at least a metre apart from each other.

Also, pedal-operated taps for wash basins and hand gel dispensers should be installed throughout markets so people can keep their hands clean.

The entry and exit points of markets should be designated to make it easier to regulate the flow of people and see if they comply with hygiene measures.

Vendors should avoid taking small children to markets with them while a major clean-up should be carried out every week, according to Mr Natthapong.

Dr Panpimol, meanwhile, has promised to consider the request.

Chuwit Jantharos, secretary of the health promotion movement, said the department should ramp up efforts to raise sanitation standards at fresh markets in light of the coronavirus spread.

The network of activists conducted a survey from March 24-25 at 13 fresh markets in Bangkok and surrounding provinces.

It found only two markets had erected banners with messages on how to stay safe from the virus and provided hand gel for shoppers.

Three other markets set aside a single wash basin although the taps were the typical hand-operated type that the virus could accumulate on.

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