NSC mulls easing of lockdown
The National Security Council (NSC) is expected to present a proposal for the extension of the state of emergency to the prime minister on Monday, with some current restrictions to be relaxed to allow some businesses and daily activities to resume amid the coronavirus crisis.
The NSC met other security agencies to assess the current state of emergency which will expire on April 30.
Speaking after the meeting, NSC secretary-general Somsak Roongsita said the meeting agreed that enforcement of the decree should be extended since the pandemic has not yet been brought under complete control.
The government will decide how long the extension will be, Gen Somsak said, adding it will also discuss preparations for the relaxation of restrictions with the National Economic and Social Development Council.
He said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will call a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Monday to decide whether to extend the state of emergency.
If the extension is agreed, the matter will go before the cabinet meeting on Tuesday for approval, Gen Somsak said.
He added that details regarding the relaxation of restrictions will be known after Monday's meeting.
He also said the NSC will invite representatives from the business sector to give opinions on how to curb new infections if restrictions are relaxed.
A source at the NSC meeting said security agencies responsible for enforcing the emergency decree would propose the extension at Monday's meeting following their assessment of the situation, as well as recent opinion surveys showing that most respondents want the state of emergency extended to prevent the spread of the virus.
Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman of the CCSA, said there has been concern that a second wave of Covid-19 transmissions will erupt once life starts returning to normal.
He warned people not to go out, except when it is absolutely necessary, as they will risk contracting the virus and infecting their families.
Dr Taweeslip denied a report about the lifting of the curfew in 32 provinces in early May, adding any relaxation of the state of emergency must be approved by the cabinet.
On his Facebook account, Yong Poovorawan, head of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, explained the criteria which would be used to decide which areas should be designated as coronavirus-free.
He said an area which is deemed to be virus-free must have gone at least 28 days without a new infection -- double the 14-day incubation period for Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the government on Thursday reported 13 new Covid-19 patients, raising the national total to 2,839. One more death was also reported -- that of an elderly Thai woman first admitted to hospital for an unrelated complaint. The accumulated death toll now stands at 50. The new infection tally is two lower than the 15 recorded on Wednesday and the lowest since March 14, marking the fifth consecutive day of decline.
Because of limited testing, however, the actual number of infections is believed to be higher.