Govt to mull lockdown proposal

Govt to mull lockdown proposal

Health workers collect nasal swabs from people for Covid-19 tests at Wat Phon Manee in Lat Krabang district of Bangkok on Wednesday. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
Health workers collect nasal swabs from people for Covid-19 tests at Wat Phon Manee in Lat Krabang district of Bangkok on Wednesday. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Admininistration (CCSA) would be willing to consider any proposal from the Ministry of Public Health for a lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, National Security Council secretary-general Natthapon Nakpanich said on Wednesday.

Gen Natthapon, the CCSA's chief of operations, said he had heard talk of a lockdown. There was no official proposal so far, but if proposed the centre was ready to consider it.

He said people should have a correct understanding of the term "lockdown". 

Measures, which included a curfew, taken by the government in April last year could be construed as a lockdown, but the restrictions imposed afterwards -- such as shuttering of businesses and a ban on movement of people -- were not, he said.

Asked whether the matter would be taken up at the CCSA's July 12 meeting, Gen Natthapon said it could come sooner if the number of infections and deaths went up.

"We may wait for 15 days to assess the situation. We have to take all factors into consideration.

"In the meantime, we have to look into other matters, such as controls on the movement of people and solving the problem of bed shortages. We won't just sit and watch the figures," Gen Nathapon said.

Asked whether a lockdown would be imposed only in areas where the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus was rampant, or on the whole country, Gen Nathapon said emphasis would be placed on Bangkok and surrounding provinces, along with the four southern border provinces. Other parts of the country could be put under semi-lockdown.

The National Security Council chief said a complete lockdown would have grave effects on people living hand-to-mouth and those with no permanent income.

"According to the Ministry of Finance, nearly 300 billion baht was spent on remedial action during the April 2020 lockdown. If we do it again we would have find a lot of money to compensate the people for their suffering.

In fact, even if we spend as much as 300 billion baht per month, it would not be enough to make up for the losses," Gen Natthapon said.

Therefore, the CCSA would mainly base its decision on people's suffering and hardship, he said. People should be able to make a living without the risk of being infected with the virus.

If there were to be a lockdown, the Ministry of Public Heath must come up with sufficient reasons for it, he said.

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