Doctors caution against early relaxation of lockdown restrictions
A group of 14 doctors is cautioning the Thai Government against the premature easing of lockdown restrictions, as pressure mounts from people and businesses to reopen.
The doctors submitted a five-point proposal, for the Government to consider before it decides to relax restrictions, tentatively, before the expiration of the state of emergency on April 30th.
The physicians said that the partial lockdown has, so far, been shown to contain the spread of the virus to a satisfactory level, with 32 provinces reporting no new infections for two weeks.
However, they admitted that the success of the lockdown has had enormous economic and social costs and those costs will increase, to the extent that those on a low-income would be hardest hit if the restrictions continue unnecessarily.
Several countries are reopening their towns and cities, said the doctors, while warning about the risk of early easing of the lockdown in the absence of an effective vaccine.
They propose that the Government choose between a complete lockdown for 2-3 months and a partial lockdown, while acknowledging that the coronavirus can only be contained, not eradicated.
The first scenario is suitable for small communities, which have a high infection rate, but may not be appropriate due to the prohibitive social and economic costs, said the doctors, as they voiced support for the second scenario.
Before easing lockdown restrictions, they proposed five measures be taken, including expanding testing and isolation of the infected, strict enforcement of social distancing and hygienic practices, such as the wearing of face masks, the reopening of low risk businesses, the closure of high risk businesses, such as pubs, bars, entertainment venues and sports stadia and effective monitoring and forecasting systems.
The doctors suggested that lockdown measures should be eased gradually, as pilot project, starting in some of the provinces which have not reported any new infections for the past two weeks.
Among the 14 doctors are well-known virologist Dr. Yong Poovorawan, Dr. Kamnuan Oengchusak, Dr. Thirawat Hemachutha, Dr. Supamit Choonsutthiwat, Dr. Somchai Chakrabhand, Dr. Sopon Mekthon, Dr. Thanarak Phlipat, Dr. Kanchit Limpakarnjanarat, Dr. Manit Thiratantikanont, Dr. Praphon Tangsrikiatikul and Dr. Paichit Warachit.