11 July 2024

July 31, 2021: People slam one another as “stupid” all the time, except senior rival politicians who are very careful about their choice of words. Which is why Thaksin Shinawatra’s latest remark referring to his top political enemy at the moment and Thailand’s spiralling COVID-19 situation has stirred much reaction and speculation.

Is Thaksin smartly keeping Prayut Chan-o-cha under a negative focus by virtually calling him “stupid”, or is Tony Woodsome, as the man in Dubai is currently known, naively re-igniting unfavourable feelings toward him when he should have just quietly watched and seen Prayut wavering under storms?

The second question has to do with the belief that Thaksin should have been “smarter”, that politics is about making people forget about one’s own flaws while the enemy is wobbling thanks to other factors. In other words, Thaksin should have sat on the fence at this very moment.

Reaction to Thaksin’s Clubhouse remark, which his Thailand-based strategists are trying to amplify, has been mixed, of course, depending on one’s ideological and political leaning. But so is speculation. One theory is that Thaksin was smelling blood, whose scent is thick enough to give him realistic hope of a triumphant return. The other has it that he is just frustrated, and extremely so.

July 30, 2021: While people anywhere else in the world would do anything to get vaccinated, some Americans are reportedly sneaking out of their homes, like naughty teenagers, to vaccination outlets because their loved ones are strongly opposed to inoculation.

According to CNN, vaccination has become so politically polarising that some people in Missouri are seeking vaccination in secret for fear of backlash from friends and family members who don’t like the idea of inoculation, a divisive situation blamed on cutthroat politics that seems to have intensified since Donald Trump’s controversial election loss.

“They (the people secretly getting vaccines) have had some experience that’s sort of changed their mind from the viewpoint of those in their families, those in their friendship circles or their work circles,” a senior medical information officer in Missouri was quoted as saying. “And they came to their own decision that they wanted to get a vaccine.”

According to her, some vaccination staff spotted several people behaving strangely coming in to get vaccinated. Those people “have tried to sort of disguise their appearances and even went so far as to say, ‘please, please, please don’t let anybody know that I got this vaccine.’/”

With supplies and logistics never an issue, the only thing blocking total vaccination of the American population is said to be what President Joe Biden described as as a “misinformation” campaign against vaccines. Action has been taken against social media users deemed to have been spreading false information.

“Requests for privacy” will be respected, CNN added, in line with the government’s frustration and wish to re-boost the pace of vaccination. Previous “invitations” in America reportedly involved free drinks and donuts.

July 29, 2021: The Tokyo Games feature the biggest number of Olympians openly identifying themselves as LGBTQ in history, but many people associated with the growing movement believe there are still unfair limits to openness.

About 170 of the 11,000 participating athletes, among them many stars in their sports, identify themselves as LGBTQ, according to a reliable count. “Historic representation” as it is, the number is still less than 2 per cent. Considering the fact that in America alone, the number of LGBTQ people is about 4.5 per cent, the Olympic figures could have been actually more.

If anything, all numbers show young LGBTQ are still discriminated against when playing sports at schools, colleges or universities, people in the movement noted. The Tokyo Olympics are a good start, but serious questions will have to continue to be asked, they say.

July 28, 2021: Infections are declining but deaths are increasing, as the enigmatic Delta variant continues to provide puzzles in a country that is defying it the most.

England’s daily infection numbers have continually decreased over the past few days, despite the country’s controversial lifting of legal restrictions starting on July 19. The decline has been so remarkable that it gives the United States, which is gravely uncomfortable with its sharp rises, some hope that, no matter how slick and easily transmissible Delta is, “peaks” will come and go quickly. India is another case of Delta scarily peaking and then apparently waning.

Yet England’s daily death tolls are either increasing or staying at levels inconsistent with the drops in infections. Health authorities in England are having a serious look into why, and so should the whole world. It is well known that spikes in death lag behind infection jumps, and England did have scary infection rises not so long ago, but the current situation is worrying and intriguing all the same.

July 27, 2021: Terrifying as it is, the currently-reported situation concerning coronavirus infections in Thailand and abroad can be way below the reality, scientists say.

Charts show that despite increasing availability of testing, the world is still far from getting all people comprehensively tested. This is natural because most people not having any symptoms will not seek testing and many governments don’t consider testing of asymptomatic citizens a must.

Increasing availability of home test kits may bring the world closer to the reality. Most of all, infected but asymptomatic people can spread the virus.

Researchers can work backward using numbers of deaths to try to figure out the real situation, or something closer to it, but infection-death percentages vary from place to place and the fact that deaths lag behind infections makes the backward method irrelevant when quick response is concerned.

According to Los Angeles Times, there is “a growing body of evidence that the pandemic’s true toll is far greater than official tallies show.” Even numbers in America, it reported, can be significantly lower than the reality despite the country leading the world in availability and effectiveness of testing. The website reported that actual numbers in America might even “double” what has been said officially.

Scientists have long been aware that the actual numbers could be a lot worse than reported, but how much the coronavirus can take advantage of that has been uncertain. A closer look into the issue will go a long way toward assessing the importance of home testing kits, for example.

July 26, 2021: The “car mob” last week may be too small to capture a large-scale national attention, but warring content is still simmering on the social media and the prime minister should be seriously worried.

While inexorably-shooting COVID-19 numbers elsewhere in the country are one big load of straws on the camel’s back, a Phuket surge can be the last piece that breaks it. So far, Phuket numbers are manageable, but so were overall national numbers just a few weeks ago. And while there has been just a trickle of blood, Prayut Chan-o-cha’s opponents have smelled it.

They are not without weak spots at which the government can hit back, however. Gatherings can “make things worse” or “rub salt into the wound”. Helping local economies was always what they asked the prime minister to do. And as recently as last year, some anti-Prayut figures were asking the government to “open up”, saying people were in financial ruins and “could die before they get COVID-19” and children were missing education opportunities.

That being said, a Phuket collapse would play into their hands big time.

July 25, 2021: There are many reasons behind the continued rise in COVID-19 cases in Thailand and around the world, but one of the factors may have to do with the trust people give to those who have been inoculated, experts warn.

Fully vaccinated people or even those who have received just the first shots feel naturally freer to go about than the unvaccinated. They may unknowingly touch something or walk into something or step onto something. In other words, their hands, their clothes, their shoes and other belongings may still be carrying something dangerous. And, naturally, they probably wash their hands less often and are less strict about social distancing.

The vaccinated people are naturally more “welcomed” than the unvaccinated counterparts when going to office or households. Guards manning many checkpoints will look at mobile phones and grant passage if there is information about the owners having got jabs.

The situation is quite worrisome, particularly when considering the fact that the feared Delta variant is more widespread and last longer outside the body.

When people flash their “vaccine passports” at, say, a cautiously-opened tourist spot, it only means their bodies are fine. The passports do not guarantee the safety of what they may be carrying on their backs or at their fingertips.

July 24, 2021: A scientific study has been conducted to try to remove lingering concern that extreme COVID-19 restrictions are worse than the disease itself, even citing Thailand as one of the positive examples.

In a research, an international collaboration between scientists in Australia, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the United States whose findings were published in in widely-accepted BMJ Global Health, said it is unlikely that government interventions are more harmful than the coronavirus itself.

Opponents of state restrictions on personal freedoms during the pandemic argue that lockdowns have taken and will take bigger tolls on public physical and mental health. They cited such factors as missed opportunities to screen or get treatment for other illnesses or the longer time it took to get normal or emergency health services unrelated to COVID-19.

The researchers found no increase in actual mortality rates in countries where lockdowns are strict and frequent like Australia and New Zealand. Both countries do not even have high concern about COVID-19 infections and deaths, meaning their peoples had to be more frustrated than counterparts in hard-hit countries.

The researchers also found a similar story in South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. The tone of the published research, however, seems to have “at least for now” written all over it, and the issue of stress, which is understandable, appears secondary.

July 23, 2021: The costs of hosting and participating in the Olympics, always controversially dubbed a stage to display the better side of the world but which has in fact been largely exploited politically and commercially _ extremely or else _ could have been translated into an enormous amount of vaccines for needy populations.

But after a year of delays and uncertainty, the Tokyo Olympics formally kick off today. One excuse is that further cancellation signifies a meek defeat in human beings’ war against the coronavirus and surrender to the doom and gloom it has generated. It’s only through the Olympics can we show our pride and defiance, Games advocates have said.

Truth is, it’s more about faces and commercial interests.

July 22, 2021: Imagine Joe Biden is Prayut Chan-0-cha, the Republicans are the Thai parliamentary opposition and Donald Trump is probably Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and you’ll get the idea. The rivalry has become so deep and fierce that the US president is mournful about conspiracists pervading American life and thus making much of the world “wonder” about America.

He did not openly accuse the Republicans of cooking up conspiracy theories, but he alluded to the possibility of the opponents helping fuel them. In CNN town hall remarks hours ago, he earnestly begged for Americans to stop believing in claims about Deep State, recreate a united, trusting society and thus put an end to global doubts.

Some sound bites: “What do you say to your grandchildren and your children about what’s happening? Do you ever remember a time like this before in the entire history, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican? This is not who we are.” “Folks, the rest of the world’s wondering about us. Those of you who’ve travel abroad — it’s not a joke.” “(Democracy) has to stand up and demonstrate it can get something done.”

CNN said Biden, who is seeing his “Reunited America” agenda going in the wrong direction, was notably frustrated with “misinformation” about the vaccines used in the United States. (More similarities with Prayut) The president’s complaint coincided with COVID-19 cases rising in America, although he stopped short of directly blaming politics for the resurgence.

He addressed conspiracy theories while referencing the QAnon cult, which specialises in shocking anti-America claims and seems to get more attention locally and globally.

July 21, 2021: Thailand, having reached a new coronavirus record which may not stay long, would kill to have Australia’s infection numbers at the moment, but the latter country is implementing another major lockdown.

The Delta variant is wreaking havoc throughout the world, and Australia is not taking any chances. More than 13 million Australians _ about half the population _ are now in lockdown, which is highly policed to ensure compliance.

South Australia, home to 1.7 million, has just joined Victoria and parts of New South Wales in facing the tough lockdown measures after five infections were found. Yes, five, you have read it right.

There has been natural public anger, with Sydney and Melbourne facing uncertainty over extension and reopening, but Australia is determined to keep its status as a role model in COVID-19 fight. That status is deemed to be shaky now by certain international experts, although death and infection rates remain ridiculously low. Daily new infections are now in the vicinity of 100, which could make most countries anywhere else rest assured.

Australia’s move makes England’s defiance even more puzzling.

July 20, 2021: America and its NATO allies have come out in full force this week to condemn China, accusing it of being behind what is reported to be a large-scale operation by computer hackers wreaking havoc on key servers all over the world.

If there had been any doubt as to where the allies stood when it came to Beijing, it has been largely erased by the current show of solidarity that came in the form of strongly-worded, high-level statements. The alliance against alleged cyberattack include America, NATO members, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, all of whom believed that the Chinese government sponsored hackers targeting key economic servers of the West and engaging in cyber-enabled extortion, cryptojacking and ransomware. An assault of Microsoft Exchange email server has been the biggest news over the past few days.

The alliance will reportedly do everything it can to “counter the global threat” including sharing intelligence on cyberthreats and collaborating on network defences and security. Nothing more dramatic than that was talked about, but the development is quite dramatic in itself and adding to the increasingly East-West divisive issues of the coronavirus’ origin, Hong Kong, Hua Wei, Beijing’s overall growing economic and political clouts, and, last but not least, China’s close ties to Russia.

July 19, 2021: Thais’d better get used to waking up to see the daily infections near or above 10,000 and that can even surpass 30,000 in the worst-case scenario.

That’s the interpretation of Dr Taweesin Vissanuyothin’s latest message. The spokesman of the government’s anti-COVID-19 operations delivered it in the best sugar-coated way he could, but the numbers he talked about today are hitting everyone right between the eyes.

Simply put, with any luck, the average daily infections would hover between mid-9,000 and 10,000 plus for the next few days, he quoted Thai experts’ estimates. He was vague on exactly how long the agony will be, but from his words August would remain a bad month and probably September, too.

“If we aren’t helping one another and not fighting”, the average daily figure could hit 32,000. Taweesin literally begged for Thai cooperation “so we can make it through together.”

July 18, 2021: Thailand, in close vicinity to two COVID-19 epicentres, namely India and Indonesia, is returning to the harsh reality of lockdown experienced in 2020, but the authorities may have overlooked one crucial fact: While the measures are as strict as last year, the current situation is far worse than the last time.

Thailand has reached the painful point of many people getting the coronavirus from their loved ones. Strangers shall not be trusted, but in-family infections could be among the key reasons why Thai numbers keep rising. Mask-wearing at home and social distancing among family members are among measures implemented in some hard-hit countries, and enforcing mask-wearing in cars alone may not work in Thailand.

Legalised family measures will create a lot of fuss and a degree of panic, but good luck has seemed to be on the side of the paranoid or panicky people when COVID-19 is concerned.

July 17, 2021: One school of thought, embraced most notably by England’s government, is that high numbers of COVID-19 infections are acceptable as long as death tolls or severe illnesses are on declines.

Not so fast, many say. The coronavirus, they point out, has proved to be a tactical and strategic genius, so if the goal now is to continue spreading among humans, killing them too fast might not totally serve it. What if the plan at the moment is going easy on the killing and focusing on infecting?

Which is why criticism against England is growing. Global health experts have condemned Boris Johnson’s administration as being irresponsible toward the rest of the world, as daily case numbers in the UK shot third in the global chart some time this week, during which only Indonesia and Brazil had more.

Some scientists, the Financial Times reported, are fearing that England, set to lift most restrictions next week to proclaim a “Freedom Day”, could become a breeding ground for dangerous variants, which certainly are making countries like Thailand break unenviable records.

Even British authorities have warned that daily cases could soon even hit 100,000, but they point to the lower death and serious illness tolls and the “ability” of England’s healthcare to cope with the situation. The scientists, however, are warning that England must not think only of itself and must avoid becoming “a threat to the world.”

July 16, 2021: Thailand’s continued rise is blamed on vaccine management. America’s apparent resurgence is blamed on Delta. England’s highest infection record in months currently is shrugged off by its government, but very worrisome all the same. Indonesia’s unenviable surpassing of India underlines Southeast Asia’s unwanted status as a new epicentre. Alarms are peaking in Australia, not so long ago lauded for its “COVID-19 zero” strategy. Myanmar is seeing people defying military curfew in desperate search of oxygen. Africa, with the world’s weakest health service capacity, is praying hard.

No matter who or what takes the blame, the global trend is shooting back up, flying in the face of the fact that vaccination was non-existent last year but has become the main weapon against the coronavirus this year. That makes the current wave very worrying in the eyes of experts.

The World Health Organisation insisted a day ago that the COVID-19 pandemic is “nowhere near finished” despite an apparent slowdown recently. Case numbers are rising again worldwide, and WHO is warning that the situation could even be “more challenging” this time. Loosely translated, “it can get worse than before.”

July 15, 2021: After Thaksin Shinawatra’s cheeky online statement the other day that he would return to Thailand soon to help solve COVID-19 problems, and enter the country “through the front gate of the Suvarnabhumi airport” this time, the expected government response was “Be my guest”.

In fact, it’s never about “whether” Thaksin can come home or not. It’s about “where” he would be if he came home. Returning triumphantly, “through the front gate” in Thaksin’s own words, requires legal amendments, the sort of which triggered the massive protests leading to the downfall of his sister’s government. A signature campaign to bring him home, meanwhile, is a lot easier said than done, as it could set dangerous precedents in criminal justice.

Seeking a royal clemency is also associated with risks. It’s a process that would more or less require his presence. One misstep and he could be locked up and put in jail in Thailand. Talking about the two-year jail sentence he has been trying to avoid, had he accepted it in the first place he could have been Thailand’s prime minister working overtime to combat COVID-19 by now.

July 14, 2021: The World Health Organisation is pointing out that the Delta variant “is ripping around the world at a scorching pace”, but is warning that the “vaccine booster shots” idea would amplify the already-bad vaccination imbalance around the globe.

Singling out vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna for criticism, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus insisted this week that rich countries must not be ordering booster shots for their vaccinated populations while other countries have yet to deliver first shots sufficiently.

The global gap in vaccination, he said, is “hugely uneven and inequitable” and can further widen as some countries and regions are ordering millions of booster doses, a situation that would leave poorer populations, particularly their health workers and the vulnerable, further behind in preliminary and essential protection.

He said companies promoting the idea of booster shots should have instead focused on helping the needy populations with first and second doses.

July 13, 2021: On the bright side, international diplomacy and medal counts, which were heavily politicised in the past, will matter far less than usual this time. But that’s just about the only bright side for the upcoming Olympics.

A state of emergency. Star athletes not joining. Participating ones probably not at their best and even frightened or worried about the well-being of loved ones back home. Empty stadiums. Broadcasts that will constantly be challenged by breaking COVID-19 news. Welcome to the new normal of Olympics, which will take place in Japan just over a week from now against the overpowering backdrop of the coronavirus.

Olympic host city Tokyo entered a fresh state of emergency hours ago. The capital recorded over 600 daily new cases a day earlier, adding to the country’s accumulated infection cases of more than 815,000 and nearly 15,000 deaths. Organisers will ban spectators from mostly all venues.

Olympics normally represent human spirit, determination and unity. But politics often got in the way. This time, international politics may be on the sidelines but it’s extremely doubtful if “spirit” and “determination” are being appropriately directed.

July 12, 2021: Six detected infections among about 4,000 tests may not look too alarming, but there are other factors to consider for Thailand’s most popular tourist island.

The first factor is there are plenty of untested people who can be asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus. The second factor is that news about current vaccination not being foolproof is rumbling globally. The third factor is pretty much political, but everyone knows who initiated the “reopening” and what would happen if it turns into a disaster. The fourth factor is that the only way counting can go is up. The fifth factor is that the Prayut government does not have “ordinary” political enemies.

The word “Sandbox” is normally associated with innocent joyfulness. Definitely not in this case.

July 11, 2021: In a popular backlash that should serve as a warning against the similar, albeit lower-scale, plan of “reopening” Phuket, the British government have been told by fearful citizens that England’s “Freedom Day” from COVID-19 could be considerably in name.

A newspaper poll suggested masks will continue to be worn by the majority of English people after July 19, the day when most restrictions will be lifted to declared England’s “independence” from the coronavirus. However, worrisome are findings that up to 23 % would stop wearing masks on public transport and to supermarkets, whereas 27% could enter pubs and bars without the face covers. In restaurants, where people remove face masks while eating anyway, there can be up to 30 % mask-less clients.

The “Freedom Day” agenda has been criticised by many in and outside England. In a statement thought to be referring to England’s plan, a senior World Health Organisation official said doing away with actions that could save lives, prevent infections and reduce spread is “immoral”, “unethical” and “non-scientific”. The critics are hoping that the potential impact of England’s reopening would be softened by “responsible” people who would keep exercising key measures after July 19.

July 10, 2021: The European Union has been able to fudge its way through budgetary or general economic disagreements, but its unity could soon face a major test over unprecedented conflicts regarding homosexuality.

The EU majority still regards it as a strictly human-right issue, but a small minority specifically Hungarian and Polish powers-that-be helped by right-wing activists is insisting that LGBT concerns also cultural beliefs and, therefore, the concept of national identity should be taken into account as well.

Current conflicts revolve around laws or policies deemed by the majority as discriminating, with Hungary and Poland key targets for pro-LGBT criticism. There were also far-right politicians in countries like France and Italy supporting the argument that there are certain cultural or national identity lines that the EU rulers shall not cross.

The disagreement, apparently lopsided in favour of right activists at the moment, can snowball into a clash of rival values.

With the LGBT movement expanding fast and taxpayers in the EU certainly don’t want their money to support plans or policies they don’t like, the union is seeing trouble brewing. What constitutes governing principles for the EU will be put to great test, as many analysts agree that the issue is an uncharted territory and requires clear-cut solutions, unlike some economic squabbling that is more flexible depending on circumstances.

What transpires in Europe will be closely watched elsewhere, too, as the “Pride” movement is growing around the globe including Thailand.

July 9, 2021: While what is going on globally regarding vaccination is already chaotic, Pfizer is saying the world might need a third dose.

The drugmaker has said it is seeing waning immunity from its coronavirus vaccine, so efforts are being made to develop a booster dose that will better protect people from variants. The American company, supposedly armed with data on how much help the third dose could give, wanted to seek emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration. The firm had a timeframe in mind and stated it in the request.

American authorities, however, have insisted that it was not up to private companies to decide what was needed and when. How long the authorities can hold remains to be seen.

Vaccines have complicated situations in many places on earth, particularly where their availability has been limited, triggering charges of “vaccine apartheid”, for example. A “third dose” issue will certainly generate fresh commercial, diplomatic and political ramifications on a grand scale.  While Pfizer’s idea may have great business values or potentials for America, it can negatively affect the rest of the vaccines and further confuse the global community on vaccination efficacy. The booster idea might also backfire against Pfizer in terms of confidence in the product, but in business that is known as a “calculated risk”.

July 8, 2021: Thousands of scientists, doctors, nurses and other professionals have signed a letter asking Boris Johnson’s government to reconsider the controversial plan to reopen its country just over 10 days from now.

“We believe this decision is dangerous and premature,” they wrote in a letter to the Lancet medical journal. “The UK government must reconsider its current strategy and take urgent steps to protect the public, including children. We believe the government is embarking on a dangerous and unethical experiment … ”

More than 32,000 infections were reported on Wednesday in England.

The letter, however, focused on England’s well-being and risks facing the nation rather than possible threats to the rest of the world, particularly in places where vaccination has not been as effective and widespread as in the European country.

July 7, 2021: By the time England “re-opens” on July 19, infections could reach 50,000 a day, and 100,000 not long afterwards.

But that is probably not the highest risk Boris Johnson’s government is taking. As the administration has announced to the people and the whole world, vaccination has become a strong “wall” against deaths, severe illnesses and overwhelming hospitalisations. The planned reopening is not a major risk for England’s life and health, the prime minister insisted.

“You infect us and make our numbers rise, but that will be the best you can do” is the virtual message England gives to the coronavirus.

But deaths, severe illnesses and fully-stretched health services are still very much common anywhere else, and this is where the UK government can be potentially deadly wrong. Vaccination is far from the level of England’s achievement in most parts of the world, so England, it seems, is not gambling on its own future only, unless the country becomes strictly a place where nobody gets out and nobody gets in.

Infections are threatening to break through 30,000 a day now in England, compared with just a few thousands only weeks ago.

July 6, 2021: “If we don’t do it now, then when?” That’s Boris Johnson’s message reaffirming his nation’s plan to reopen despite a new COVID-19 surge.

He even admitted the number of cases could rise to a whopping 50,000 a day but the prime minister insisted everyone should take heart from an apparently weakening link between infections and deaths, a development he said was due to an effective vaccine roll-out programme.

He has issued a guarantee that his country was less than two weeks away from ending almost all of restrictions. Face masks will no longer be legally required and distancing rules will be scrapped. Football clubs are making plans with full stadiums in views.

The prime minister will keep wearing mask when necessary in public, but more as a “courtesy”.

BBC said this kind of defiance can’t be seen anywhere else in the world, particularly in the face of surges caused by the Delta variant. Infections have climbed back up in England, more than the rest of Europe and America, and experts say they are seeing Delta’s fingerprints all over it.

But the prime minister said his country must learn to live with it. “If we don’t go ahead now when we have clearly done so much with the vaccination programme to break the (infection-death) link…when would we go ahead?” he said.

The reopening is set for July 19, with confirmation expected to be announced a few days from now. It’s a big, big gamble. Several countries wanting so much to open up must be wishing him success, but they surely aren’t the only ones watching England. The coronavirus, famous for creating false senses of security, must be looking at the development with great interest, too.

July 5, 2021: As the world’s attention is firmly on COVID-19, it’s natural to overlook or downplay another global threat, which is currently limited to the Northern Hemisphere but which can make the coronavirus look pale if it becomes more widespread and related events more frequent.

Environmentalists say the worst definitely can happen. Scientists do not dispute that, although both groups may disagree over how long it takes.

Climate change has, it’s believed, generated heatwaves that are killing hundreds, destroying human neighbourhoods and triggering a large number of wildfires. Unprecedentedly hot temperatures have been recorded. Canada is bearing the brunt. Roads melted last week in America’s Northwest. In India, tens of millions are experiencing unusually hot weather, some very negatively. In Iraq, a public holiday has been declared in some areas because it was simply getting too hot for people to work. In Thailand, where hot weather is nothing unfamiliar, complaints that “It’s so very hot this year” were rampant before the rains, accompanied by frightening storms, accelerated.

Scientists have refused to confirm that there are “definite links” between unusual global events, but everyone seemed to admit that “coincidences”, which could be more, were getting uncomfortable. Environmentalists, meanwhile, may be getting more attention now but some who have worse scenarios in their heads will not want to be proven right.

What do the coronavirus and climate change have in common? The answer is their apparent “break” create complacency. What’s happening now in the Northern Hemisphere will be forgotten, it is feared, when the situation improves. However, scientists are warning that the silent menace can be more frequent, active and widespread in the foreseeable future.

July 4, 2021: The most recent survey on the Bangkok gubernatorial election has seen the popularity of the favourite candidates slightly increased, but they are independent runners whereas support for political parties remains considerably low.

Chadchart Sittipunt is still the top favourite with 26.16% support in the survey of 1,315 eligible Bangkok voters over the past few days, followed by ex-police chief Chakthip Chaijinda at 14.60%. They were at 23.84% and 12.57% in June.

The slight increase in their popularity coincided with a little drop in the number of “undecided” voters from 30.62% in June to 27.98% now. The “undecided” edged Chadchart supporters and remained the biggest group, however, which can swing when all candidates are unveiled.

According to the latest findings, 4.7% of the people surveyed would vote for a Pheu Thai candidate and 3.58% for a candidate fielded by either the Move Forward Party or the Progressive Movement. The Democrat Party received a 1.6% backing.

July 3, 2021: Up to 35 % of people checked by the Department of Health in ultra-red COVID-19 zones do not wear masks properly, especially while in crowded public areas.

As Thailand keeps shattering unwanted records day after day, health officials and experts have returned to asking Thais to wear protective masks exactly the right way, covering both nose and mouth completely and avoiding “freeing” either or both at all costs.

Some people leave the nose partially open for better breathing. Others put the cover on the off all the time to facilitate activities like chatting or drinking. Many don’t care at all whether masks are on their faces correctly, thinking that they are “safe” as long as the cover is on their faces, no matter how.

“We have found out that only 65 % of people in ultra red zones are doing it the right way,” said Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, the department’s chief. He added that the department would not recommend wearing double masks as that would risk the protection “not fitting properly with the face” and could cause frequent “adjustment” leading to the hands coming up to the face too often.

July 2, 2021: The attitude of foreign media toward the cautious reopening of Phuket is pretty much “wait and see”, with nobody seeming optimistic at the moment.

CNN said “Thailand’s most popular island” has welcomed tourists once again. The story mentioned economic necessity and stressed that the reopening was largely “symbolic”, meaning Thailand’s enormous tourism industry should not start dreaming big.

The Guardian, in a report published just before the reopening, said Phuket was still racing to vaccinate residents to meet the goal of 70 per cent.

The BBC’s headline said, rather matter-of-factly, that Phuket “welcomes first international tourists”. Like CNN, the report focused on the economy. BBC said the Thai government was treating Phuket like an experiment and would reopen more tourist spots if the Phuket case was successful.

All foreign news reports mentioned concern that reopening could open or broaden the way for the coronavirus.

COVID-19 was in France 24 headline. Phuket reopened “despite COVID-19 surge”, it said.

July 1, 2021: The first factor is that the fearsome Delta variant has only just begun. The second factor is that a lot more humans, politicians in power included, couldn’t care less now because extremely-bad economy is biting so hard.

That is why the ongoing race for survival between the coronavirus and human beings is entering the most crucial juncture yet. Vaccines are doing their best, but so is the virus in its attempt to fly under the radar. Delta, which has started to hit hard in many parts of the world, underlines the virus’ effort to gain strategic upper-hand and the worst news is that the devastating mutations are just the beginning and a lot more is to come.

The evolution to achieve quicker, more widespread and easier transmissibility has been helped by the “pandemic fatigue” of human beings, which is spreading through many politicians, ordinary people whose economic life has been upended, and “what-the-hell” entrepreneurs. No matter how scary the situations are, the will to keep the guards extremely up is not as strong as before. Warnings against “complacency” are currently not as loud as cries from economic pain.

Good news is that current vaccines can still tame Delta, but bad news is that their unavailability in many parts of the world is a great window for the variants to regroup, further mutate and then attack with fresh force and armoury. As the World Health Organisation says: “No human is safe until all humans are safe.”