BANGKOK: Thailand is preparing for widespread transmission of COVID-19 as the country continues to report more cases of the potentially deadly disease, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
He maintained on Monday (Mar 16) after a meeting with the committee overseeing the outbreak of COVID-19 that Thailand still experiences sustained transmission of the new virus and that the committee has come up with various preventive measures which will be tabled for the Cabinet’s approval on Tuesday.
This includes postponement of Thai public holidays on Apr 13-15, which mark the country’s popular water festival known as Songkran. The period usually records a large number of people travelling to their hometowns in the provinces or taking trips overseas.
Other measures include suspension of activities at universities, schools and tutorial centres nationwide, and temporary closure of crowded venues such as boxing stadiums, cinemas and entertainment establishments.
“We must put the lives and survival of the people above anything else because we don’t know yet how difficult this battle will become in the future,” Wissanu said in a press conference at the Government House, citing possible impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy.
“Right now, the dangers of COVID-19 are our first priority.”
Meanwhile, Thailand reported 33 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed patients to 147. Sixteen new cases had close contact with previously diagnosed patients and 17 others either travelled from abroad or worked with foreigners, according to Dr Rungruang Kitphati, spokesperson of the Public Health Ministry.
During the press conference, Wissanu also said Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has approved extra compensation for medical staff during the ongoing outbreak. The prime minister has also ordered the distribution of face masks recently confiscated by Thai authorities, Wissanu added.
Thailand currently faces a shortage of face masks due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.