Ministry set to ask for end to mask rule

Ministry set to ask for end to mask rule

The Ministry of Public Health will ask the Centre for Covid-19 Situation's (CCSA) operations centre to drop the mask mandate in public places and lower the national Covid-19 alert to Level 2 next week.

Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, said if the operations centre agrees with the ministry's recommendation, the final decision will rest with the CCSA's executive board, which is chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

While no decision on the matter has been taken, Gen Prayut did not wear a face mask during media interviews on Thursday -- instead, he spoke from a podium behind a plastic shield. Other ministers, meanwhile, had their masks on.

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the CCSA will also consider another proposal submitted by Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt to allow the capital's residents to ditch face masks in public places and parks.

Separately, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will start to roll out the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine soon.

In an announcement on its Facebook page on Thursday, the BMA said the vaccines have arrived in Thailand, with priority given to those who have yet to receive any Covid-19 jab.

Those wishing to receive the jab can contact Klang Hospital at 02-225-1354 or Charoenkrung Pracharak Hospital at 02-289-7986.

The Public Health Ministry has also received Covovax jabs, which are produced using the same principles and technology as the Novavax vaccine in India, said Anan Jongkaewwattana, director of Veterinary Health Innovation and Management Research Group, under the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

On April 21, the Indian Embassy in Thailand donated 200,000 doses of the Covovax jabs to the government.

The lot was paid for by members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue -- Australia, India, Japan and the US.

The vaccines were inspected by the Department of Disease Control (DDC) before they were handed over.

DDC director-general, Opas Karnkawinpong, said an academic committee recommends two doses with a three-week interval. He said studies have shown the jab is suitable for the unvaccinated.


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