Prasit blasts isolation exemptions

Prasit blasts isolation exemptions

Move 'may trigger mass outbreak'

Keeping it clean: A woman buys bottles of alcohol at a chemist’s on the opposite side of the Ying Charoen Market to make into hand sanitiser. People nationwide have become fearful over a potential second wave of Covid-19 possibly being triggered by a visiting Egyptian airman and the young daughter of a diplomat who both tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Keeping it clean: A woman buys bottles of alcohol at a chemist’s on the opposite side of the Ying Charoen Market to make into hand sanitiser. People nationwide have become fearful over a potential second wave of Covid-19 possibly being triggered by a visiting Egyptian airman and the young daughter of a diplomat who both tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

A prominent academic has expressed opposition to the government's stance on giving quarantine indemnity and allowing special foreigner groups to enter the country amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Prasit Watanapa, dean of the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital of Mahidol University, warned yesterday that doing so could still put the country in danger.

"The Covid-19 [situation] is still daunting," Dr Prasit said. "A mass outbreak can re-occur anytime while the chance of a vaccine next year is still a distant hope."

"So, we need to maintain our strict preventive measures until a vaccine comes along," he added.

The respected doctor made the statement on Facebook Live. He has been regularly streaming on the platform to give his thoughts on the situation and warn the public of any potential danger.

His words have been well received by netizens.

During the early period of the outbreak, Dr Prasit was among the top medical doctors whose opinions were sought by the government.

During a streaming session yesterday, Dr Prasit urged the government to reconsider giving special exemptions to certain groups of foreigners.

"Any immunity given to certain groups must be exercised under strict control, otherwise that special treatment can lead to transmission," he said, referring to the daughter of a Sudanese diplomat and a member of the Egyptian armed forces who recently tested positive for Covid-19.

The two were given special permission to enter the country amid the pandemic.

Local infections have been zero for over a month. Recently recorded spikes have been attributed to Thai returnees and foreigners who were kept in state-supervised quarantine facilities upon their arrival.

However, the Sudanese and Egyptian nationals reportedly did not comply with quarantine rules and the government could not get to them in time.

Dr Prasit warned the government cannot afford to be lenient.

"The exemption should not be given under such a precarious circumstance when the world is still facing a rise in infections," he said, noting global virus cases have not reached their peak.

"What the country should do is try its best to protect itself from uncontrollable factors until a vaccine comes along," Dr Prasit said.

He reiterated that the public should keep its guard up by wearing masks, washing hands, adhering to social distancing practices and using the Thai Chana mobile application to check-in and out of public and commercial spaces for tracing and monitoring purposes.

Vaccines are being developed around the world, and Dr Prasit urged people to be patient and wait for a version to be imported from overseas.

"In case of a severe outbreak, the drug may not be enough for all patients," he said.


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