Thais fear luck has run out

Thais fear luck has run out

Residents of Klong Toey speak of a growing feeling that this time Covid could hit the kingdom hard

Two passengers yesterday keep their distance to help curb the spread of Covid-19 while they wait for public buses in the Victory Monument area in Bangkok, one of the 28 red-zone provinces. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Two passengers yesterday keep their distance to help curb the spread of Covid-19 while they wait for public buses in the Victory Monument area in Bangkok, one of the 28 red-zone provinces. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

People who were buying food at a supermarket in Klong Toey district, one of the areas worst hit in Bangkok by the fresh wave of Covid-19 infections, have expressed mixed feelings about the government's response this time around, insisting they are ready to tackle the problem themselves if needs be.

Bangkok was one of the 28 "red zones " published in the Royal Gazette on Sunday.

Siriporn Pangsriwong, 56, a housewife living nearby, said the second wave of Covid-19 is "scary and we need to protect ourselves by trying not to go out as much as possible, wearing masks and using hand sanitiser frequently".

Hoarding of essential goods is unlikely for now, she feels, as "the majority of large department stores are still open for business. So, we can go there and buy them.

"I believe the government's measures will be effective in controlling the pandemic and I am confident that it's managing the situation well," she added, although she did not specify which measures she was referring to.

However, Ms Siriporn was not alone in voicing the opinion that, "In addition to the government's response, we need to take care of ourselves too".

One of two employees at a local company which sells sportswear in the district, Sirinrat Pengsap, 20, said fear is part of everyday life now.

"I am scared since the number of getting infected is rising and some of those infections are being reported quite close by.

"Furthermore, I am afraid of customers who might carry the virus. At the same time, they are also afraid of us for the same reasons. We have all become afraid of each other.''

In terms of personal precautions, Ms Sirinrat said: "I try to wear a mask and not touch my face as much as possible. I even carry my own personal alcohol to sanitise everything before touching it."

However, Ms Sirinrat did express her worry that people might start hoarding goods, especially pharmacy medical supplies.

"I believe that there might be a rush to buy certain items, especially masks and alcohol gel, as companies including my own are stocking up in large numbers to cater for their staff.

"Furthermore, as we do not know when there might be another curfew, people feel they are being practical by getting themselves prepared ahead of time," said Ms Sirinrat.

In terms of her assessment of the government's response, Ms Sirinrat was among those who expressed doubt in its ability to keep the pandemic under control this time.

"It might be that [the government] is not being prudent enough. They should come up with better measures to deal with this pandemic."

She also voiced concern that the welfare being offered to those left financially stricken by mass closures was neither inclusive enough nor being distributed as widely as is needed.

The 5,000 baht governmental support payments and 50/50 project are failing to reach those who are really in need, she warned.

"Not everyone owns a mobile phone and can register online for welfare. The government should be more concerned about those who are living on the margins of society."

Meanwhile, Sirirat Sukbun, 21, a colleague of Ms Sirinrat's at the sportswear company, also spoke of her fear of the latest raft of infections.

"It is difficult to go anywhere without being paranoid about my surroundings, and I really hate wearing face masks although I know I have to do it," Ms Sirirat said.

This second round of infections has affected her income too, she said.

"Before the new pandemic, I used to get the annual bonus as a lump sum but now that's been cut," she said.

Ms Sirirat, too, was among those who told the Bangkok Post that she had little faith in the government's measures to bring the situation under control, going so far as to warn that it might already be too late to prevent a similar situation occurring in Thailand as in many other badly affected countries around the world.

"They already closed the border and the airport last year, and we still haven't kept it [the virus] out. Things may end up just getting worse," she added.

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