PM warns of virus risk at packed locations

PM warns of virus risk at packed locations

Commuters line up with space between them as they wait to catch a train at the busy Siam Station on Thursday. It was a starkly different scene from Tuesday morning when a BTS breakdown saw commuters packed into trains during rush hour.
Commuters line up with space between them as they wait to catch a train at the busy Siam Station on Thursday. It was a starkly different scene from Tuesday morning when a BTS breakdown saw commuters packed into trains during rush hour.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has suggested Covid-19 prevention measures are needed to prevent overcrowding at many public places, says Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Dr Taweesilp said staggered working hours could also be a solution to overcrowding on public transport.

Sorapong Paitoonphong, director-general of the Department of Rail Transport, told the media he was monitoring BTS Skytrain and MRT passengers' behaviour to prevent Covid-19 transmission. The department was imposing social-distancing measures on trains to stop them carrying so many passengers, he said, adding that passengers will also be let out onto platforms more slowly.

Surapong Laoha-Unya, executive director of the Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited (BTS), said the company ensures facilities at train stations are cleaned regularly to help reduce the risk of people contracting the disease.

The BTS has 98 trains with four carriages each.

A train is about to depart Siam Station. Thetsakit  inspectors were roped in to help keep order and assist commuters at the BTS station. (Photos by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

He said social distancing was particularly important during rush hour when platforms are busy.

He said BTS and BMA city enforcement officers stood by at BTS stations Thursdaymorning to ensure passengers kept some distance apart from each other.

Mr Surapong also suggested that commuters leave for work earlier than usual. Companies are encouraged to stagger working hours to reduce the flow of passengers who start and finish work and travel by public transport at the same time, he said.

"Having different holiday days is also an option," Mr Surapong said.

Deputy Transport Minister Atirat Rattanasate said after inspecting the Klong Saen Saep boat service that he has ordered the Marine Department to introduce Covid-19 preventive measures such as arranging more boats at peak hours.

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