The tourist attraction is deserted in Phuket as the tourist island province is locked down to control Covid-19. (Photo: Achadtaya Chuenniran)The Phuket governor has issued an order barring people and vehicles from leaving and entering the southern island province as it confirms six more Covid-19 infections, bringing the total to 53. Upon finishing their operations, cargo ships and all crew, who are not allowed to disembark, must leave Phuket immediately. The resort province of Phuket has confirmed six more Covid-19 infections, bringing the total to 53, the provincial communicable diseases committee said on Sunday. Meanwhile, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases among healthcare professionals continues to rise, with eight more cases reported on Sunday bringing the total of cases among medical staff to 19.
Atavit Suwannapakdee, secretary-general of newly formed Kla Party, says he will not be drawn into a 'democracy-versus-dictatorship' conflict. He ran as a candidate for the Democrat Party and became a Bangkok MP in 2008. Mr Atavit said the idea of setting up a new party was born while he and Mr Korn were still members of the Democrat Party. "In other words, politics must be free from bitter polarisation and pragmatism must be adopted," Mr Atavit said. Mr Atavit said the new party's stance is that it will not involve itself in the democracy-versus-dictatorship conflict.
Elephants, a magnet for many visitors to Thailand, are also feeling the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak as tourist numbers plummet. Jetjaras Na RanongHumans aren't the only victims of Covid-19. Elephants -- a magnet for tourists visiting Thailand -- are among the hardest-hit animals because captive elephants are reliant on revenues from the sector. Despite the escalating Covid-19 outbreak in Thailand, many were touched by her appeal and donations started coming in. "The economic impact of Covid-19 will affect at least 2,000 elephants across the country that rely on income from tourism," she said.
Air quality in North 'critical'Air pollution across the upper North remains at critical levels with authorities monitoring almost 400 active hotspots in Chiang Mai alone yesterday. Government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said fires have undoubtedly affected air quality, with 17 provinces in the North reporting an increase in levels of hazardous, ultra-fine PM2.5 pollutants yesterday. Only Nakhon Sawan and Uthai Thani reported PM2.5 readings below the Pollution Control Department's "safe" threshold, set at 50 microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m³). Chiang Dao district in Chiang Mai reported the highest PM2.5 reading in the North yesterday at 360μg/m³. As of yesterday, 398 hotspots -- or almost 10% of the country's hotspots -- were found in Chiang Mai.
Army's role in boxing a shady affairGen Prayut Chan-o-cha, then army chief and executive director of the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, lays foundation stones at the construction site of the new stadium on Ram Intra Road in Bangkok in August 2012. There is no need for the army to promote professional Thai boxing any more. According to Rattapong Sornsuparb of the Social Innovations Faculty of Rangsit University, there are more than 3,800 Thai boxing gyms overseas, promoting Thai boxing among many foreigners who are familiar with it. Since the promulgation of the Thai Professional Boxing Act in 1997, Thai boxing has evolved considerably and many boxing camps have adapted to ensure their survival. Well-known former Thai boxer Somrak Kamsing once told a panel discussion that gambling and match-fixing are an integral part of professional Thai boxing.
Considered a basic but necessary gear to protect ourselves from the spread of this pandemic disease, medical face masks have currently become one of the most sought-after items, with prices soaring beyond the affordability of most ordinary people. In dire need of face masks, hospitals across the country are asking people to donate them for their medical staff. While we're at a total loss at what to do, here comes the "Mask Bank" project, which aims to construct factories in every region of Thailand in order to produce standard medical face masks at reasonable prices. As a pharmacist, she is worried about the severe shortage of face masks and wishes to present a long-term solution. This will allow the factories to be able to produce the masks without having to rely on the imported raw materials.
Labour rights advocates have called for a debt moratorium at financial institutions as another state measure to relieve the economic impact on informal workers caused by anti-Covid-19 measures. "There should be no principal, interest or fee payments for up to 12 months," Fit chairwoman Suchin Sungsawang said. Last Tuesday the cabinet approved a new package of relief measures, following the partial lockdown in Bangkok, with shopping malls, salons and many restaurants closed until April 12. "Though the workers may be allowed to pay only the interest, the question is where can they can find the money to do so?" Many street food sellers and taxi drivers, categorised as informal workers, told the Bangkok Post they have no idea how to pay their debts when people continue to stay home.
Fiscal future in govt handsAs the coronavirus pandemic soars unabated, the Thai economy is expected to suffer its biggest contraction in 23 years. Last week, the Bank of Thailand drastically adjusted its economic forecast to a 5.3% contraction from earlier predictions of 2.8% growth. Gross domestic product is currently about 17 trillion baht compared to about 9 trillion baht in 1998. With such size, the degree of impact of an economic contraction this year may not be less than that of 1998, and could even be worse. The 5.3% contraction of GDP worth 17 trillion baht means a shrinking of more than 300 billion baht in economic value.
Covid-19 fight needs clarityThe number of Covid-19 cases doesn't seem to slowing down anywhere except for China where the new coronavirus originated. Roberto Azevedo, head of the World Trade Organization, last week warned of job losses "that are worse than the global financial crisis a dozen years ago". Given the uncertainties the outbreak has brought to the global economy, the city-state is on the verge of its first recession in almost two decades. In Thailand, where infections surpassed 1,100 on Friday, the central bank warned of the first contraction since the 2008 global financial crisis. Cambodia relies on Vietnam for agricultural imports and that could push up produce prices, say logistics operators.
Thais favour internet for virus newsMany people are obtaining information about Covid-19 from the internet and social media. However, television still remains the most reliable source, according to an opinion survey by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University or Suan Dusit Poll. The survey was held on March 25-28 among 1,033 people to compile their opinions on various kinds of media. The largest number of respondents, 79.3%, said they obtained information about the virus online. However, when asked which sources they found the most reliable, 89% chose TV over online sources.
Italy's 'very long' lockdown to only end graduallyCatholics had to celebrate Mass from home, as part of the lockdown measuresROME - Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's government prepared Italians for a "very long" lockdown Sunday that would only be lifted gradually despite its economic hardship and traumatic impact on daily lives. "The measures expiring on April 3 will inevitably be extended," Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia told Italy's Sky TG24 television. "In my opinion, at least 100 billion (euros) will be needed," Castelli told the La Stampa daily. - 'Even stricter' -Italy's death toll now stands at 10,779 and the number of officially registered infections is just under 100,000. Projections from several global banks and think-tanks in the past week point to Italy's economic output shrinking by seven percent this year.
March 29, 2020 19:52 UTC
US could take equity shares in coronavirus-hit airlines: officialsUS Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinWASHINGTON - The US government could take equity shares in airlines and other troubled but vital American corporations as it moves to stabilize an economy amid the new coronavirus pandemic, top US officials said Sunday. White House economics adviser Larry Kudlow said the government should get a stake in companies that receive direct cash grants from the federal government. "I think in return for direct cash grants, which is what the airlines have asked for, I see no reason why the American taxpayer shouldn't get a piece," he said on "Fox News Sunday." Some of these companies may need more significant help and we may be taking warrants or equity as well as that. Half that sum would take the form of loan guarantees, and the rest direct cash payments.
March 29, 2020 16:18 UTC
(AFP photo)The number of new coronavirus cases in Southeast Asian nations rose on Sunday, including a dramatic increase in the Philippines. PhilippinesThe Philippine health ministry on Sunday reported 343 new coronavirus cases, marking the country's largest daily increase in infections, and three additional deaths. That raised the total number of known infections in the country to 1,418, while the death toll has reached 71, it said. MalaysiaMalaysia reported 150 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the total to 2,470, the highest in Southeast Asia. Indonesia confirmed 130 new coronavirus infections, taking the total to 1,285, a health ministry official said on Sunday.
March 29, 2020 10:41 UTC
83 Thais who studied in Italy released after quarantineA student (left) leaves a reception facility of the Royal Thai Navy in Satthahip, Chon Buri after she and 82 others completed a 14-day quarantine on Sunday. (Royal Thai Navy photo)CHON BURI: Eighty-three Thai students who returned from Italy have been released after undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine at the Royal Thai Navy's reception centre in Sattahip district set up to screen Thai returnees from countries hard hit by Covid-19. The students, who were from various parts of the country, had studied in Italy under the American Field Service (AFS) cultural exchange programme. Seventy-seven of them arrived in at U-tapao airport in Sattahip on a flight from Italy on March 15 and the rest joined them later. All 83 Thai students are returning home from a navy reception centre in Sattahip district of Chon Buri after completing a 14-day quarantine.
March 29, 2020 06:33 UTC
Thailand reports 143 new coronavirus cases, 1 death SundayA woman wearing a mask waits for customers at an empty food stall during the coronavirus disease outbreak in Yaowarat, Bangkok on Friday. (Reuters photo)Thailand has 143 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases since the outbreak began to 1,388, the Centre for Covid-19 Administration said on Sunday. The number of new cases was a significant jump from the 109 recorded on Saturday. The government on Saturday said the increasing number of infections was due to people failing to practise social distancing. Phuket recorded six new cases on Saturday, four in the Patong area.
March 29, 2020 05:26 UTC