70% Thais stick to social distancing

70% Thais stick to social distancing

Some 70% of Thais understand and are engaging in the "social distancing" campaign -- a major strategy to curb the transmission of Covid-19-- according to the latest survey conducted by the Department of Mental Health.

The department conducted the survey last week among 26,000 respondents. The study's goal was to find out the appropriate measures needed push the campaign to exceed the 80% milestone, Dr Kiattiphoom Vongrachit, director-general of the Department of Mental Health, told media in a press briefing on Wednesday.

The 80% benchmark, he said, is based on a research in Australia, which found that is the threshold when Covid-19 transmission potentially stops.

The Ministry of Public Health estimated that if social distancing compliance exceeds 80%, the number of Covid-19 cases will reach 7,745 by April 15.

But the cases will climb to 17,635 by that date if social distancing compliance is 50%. With no social distancing, the number of cases will skyrocket to 150,000 in two weeks, he said.

Kiattiphoom: Backs 'powerful' tool'

"Social distancing is a very powerful tool to fight against Covid-19 and this weapon needs the engagement of all Thais," he said.

When asked about the practice of social distancing, 71% of respondents said they have avoided crowds, 24.7% admitted sometimes they need to mingle and the rest admitted to no change in behaviour.

Approximately 68% of respondents said they always kept a two-metre distance from others, 26.6% admitted they do it sometimes, while the rest said they ignored the distancing protocol.

Some 82% of respondents said they always wear a protective mask when leaving home, while 14% said they wore masks occasionally when outside. Only 0.5% said they never wore masks.

When it comes to washing their hands regularly, 90.5% of respondents said they did so, while 90% also said they use serving spoons when eating with others. "From this survey, it is fair to say that over 90% of participants are cooperative with the government, and only [a small minority] are non-compliant," he said.

The survey also found the majority of Thais are not panic-stricken by Covid-19. For 70% of respondents, their concern over Covid-19 is moderate, which means they are neither panicking nor carefree.

Some 76% said they are moderately fearful of Covid-19 disease, while 18% admitted they are gripped with fear. Another 5.6% said their concern over the global pandemic is low.

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