Prayut vows not to resign
Warns politicians not to exploit Covid crisis
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has insisted he will neither resign nor dissolve the House as the country struggles to contain Covid-19.
He also warned politicians not to exploit the crisis and incite hatred as that will only worsen the situation.
Meanwhile, Thailand logged 17,345 new Covid-19 cases, and 19 new fatalities on Friday.
Gen Prayut made the remarks in a video clip released online soon after his order to ban the distribution of "fake news" or information causing public fear across all media platforms was published in the Royal Gazette on Thursday evening.
During a 36-minute interview with Nathreeya Thaweewong, director of the Office of the Government Spokesperson, Gen Prayut answered a series of questions that had been put forward by media representatives earlier.
Most concerned Covid-19 containment, vaccines, lockdown measures, relief packages for the worst affected and whether the government coalition would remain stable.
Responding to a question over whether he had lost heart and would consider dissolving the House and stepping down, Gen Prayut said: "It is not the time. I am working hard every day... I try to do my best by listening to the people and getting updates from doctors and public health officials."
"I am begging you, politicians. You represent the people, and you are supposed to show sound judgement. Politics should not be used to create hatred because the country is in trouble now. Don't take this opportunity to cause any further trouble," he said.
Asked if he had anything to say to the public, Gen Prayut said he felt sorry for those who had lost loved ones and that he wanted to extend his moral support to all those involved in fighting the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the lockdown and curfew measures in the 13 dark-red zone provinces are expected to remain in place indefinitely as the number of new Covid-19 cases continued to soar, according to a source at the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
Announcement No.28 issued under the emergency decree on July 18 does not specify when the lockdown measures will be lifted, only that measures would remain in place for a minimum of 14 days and a decision made after that depending on the daily caseload.
Since the pandemic currently shows no sign of abating in Thailand, the lockdown measures will not be reconsidered by the CCSA until the situation eases, the source said.
The CCSA is, however, expected to approve a proposal to allow eateries and restaurants in department stores and shopping malls to sell food via online delivery platforms.
The Public Health Ministry has yet to present the proposal for consideration, though, the source added.
Under the restrictions imposed in 13 red-zone provinces, only supermarkets, pharmacies and vaccination centres in shopping malls have been allowed to remain open, while all other businesses have had to shut.
In other news, Nattawut Saikuar, a former key member of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship posted on Facebook, saying he will join the "car mob" rally on Sunday in Bangkok.
Led by activist Sombat Boonngam-anong, the rally is aimed at seeking the ouster of Gen Prayut.
Mr Sombat posted on his Facebook on Friday that the rally will take place on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road from 1pm until 4pm. Participants in their vehicles will honk horns and flash their headlights along the road to show their support for the movement to see Gen Prayut step down.
The Public Health Ministry reported that there were 117 Covid-19 fatalities and 17,345 new cases over the past 24 hours.
There were 16,664 cases in the general population and 681 among prison inmates.
Bangkok logged 3,231 new cases while there were 1,386 recorded in Samut Prakan, 1,186 in Samut Sakhon, 914 in Chon Buri, 587 in Nonthaburi, 479 in Chachoengsao, 378 in Nakhon Pathom, 350 in Ubon Ratchathani, 330 in Pathum Thani and 324 in Songkhla.
- Prayut Chan-o-cha