PM rallies forces for Covid battle

PM rallies forces for Covid battle

Governors, troops, police on alert

People wait for their turn at a vaccination centre at Bang Sue Grand Station on the first day after service resumed after the long New Year holiday. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
People wait for their turn at a vaccination centre at Bang Sue Grand Station on the first day after service resumed after the long New Year holiday. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed all provincial governors to brace for a possible surge in the number of new Covid-19 infections, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Saturday.

In their capacity as chairmen of provincial communicable disease committees, governors must be ready to enforce Covid-19 control measures in a new fight to contain the virus, said Mr Thanakorn.

The PM had also ordered all state-run healthcare facilities to prepare staff for a rise in the number of new patients who may need inpatient treatment, he said.

As for those who develop mild symptoms, they will be isolated at home or in the community with support provided by the National Health Security Office (NHSO) through its home- and community-based isolation programme for Covid-19 infected patients, he said.

Gen Prayut also urged everyone to take care of themselves and get a rapid Covid-19 test regularly, said Mr Thanakorn.

Deputy Defence Minister Chaichan Changmongkol, meanwhile, relayed a similar order to armed forces and the Royal Thai Police at a meeting on Saturday.

While security authorities must stem the flow of illegal migrants into Thailand, they are also instructed to support the government's work to contain Covid-19, said Gen Chaichan.

In the event of a serious outbreak, the military may have to facilitate transfers of Covid-19 patients from communities to proper healthcare facilities, he said.

The military will also help set up emergency Covid-19 operation centres in Bangkok and other provinces in case of a widespread outbreak, he said.

Mlitary forces will work to support law enforcement against businesses which fail to comply with Covid-19 control measures, he added.

The air force has reopened its field hospital in Don Muang, equipped with 150 beds for Covid-19 patients, said ACM Phanphakdi Phatthanakun, the air force chief of staff.

Several provinces on Saturday began stepping up Covid-19 containment measures. In Ubon Ratchathani, provincial governor Phongrat Phiromrat sought cooperation from the people to avoid going out between 11pm and 4am and ordered a Covid-19 lockdown in five villages in Nam Khun and Na Yia districts for 14 days following sharp rises in Covid-19 cases there.

In Bangkok, Khachit Chatchawanit, the city clerk, said City Hall will today open 41 community isolation centres with a combined capacity to serve up to 5,158 infected patients. Unlike Ubon Ratchathani, Bangkok has yet to discuss the need to encourage its residents to avoid going out at night, he said.

City Hall, however, is encouraging members of the public to report any pubs or restaurants which fail to follow the government's Covid-19 control measures.

Chiang Mai, meanwhile, has ordered 23 pub and restaurants closed for three days, after they were found to pose a risk of spreading Covid-19, said provincial governor Prachon Pratsakun.

When these businesses resume after the shutdown, they will be required to have their staff tested every three days and can only serve alcohol to customers in open-air spaces, he said. Chiang Mai recorded 310 new infections in the province on Saturday.

Police and municipality officials in Pattaya City in Chon Buri on Friday night began evening patrols to ensure nightspots and restaurants follow Covid-19 control measures.

Elsewhere in the country, Khon Kaen has set up three more field hospitals and banned sales of alcoholic drinks in all districts.

Thailand on Saturday recorded a total of 8,263 new Covid-19 infections, including 351 imported cases.

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