Government blasted in parliament over the Egyptian COVID-19 debacle
Thailand’s opposition MPs have slammed the Government for its mishandling of the Egyptian military mission’s visit to Rayong and demanded Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha take full responsibility for the failings.
Seri Ruam Thai MP Raewat Visarutvech called for the Prime Minister’s resignation, saying that an apology is not enough and that the no-quarantine privilege, granted to foreign VIPs, including the Egyptian military mission, has angered the Thai people, who feel insulted.
Mr. Raewat said that he is very concerned, predicting that Thailand will soon have the first new case of locally acquired infection, there having been none over 50 consecutive days.
Defending the Prime Minister, who was visiting Rayong at the time, Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutacha explained that the Egyptian military mission was among 11 groups who are exempted from the 14-day quarantine by law or international agreements.
He said, however, that the Egyptians were required to confine themselves to their hotel, but they breached the regulations, adding that they did wear face masks when they were out, did not eat at the mall or associate themselves with any Thais, significantly limiting their chance of infecting anyone else.
A group of people, claiming to represent business operators and lay people in the eastern province of Rayong, has demanded that the Government revoke the quarantine exemption privilege. The demand was contained in a letter, addressed to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Ms. Tatya Juangsantod, a leader of the group, told the media that people in Rayong are now seen as being at risk of carrying the virus, despite the fact that they have been fully cooperative in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19, and that the province has been free from new community infections for more than 100 days.
“We have been very patient, although we have been without incomes for nearly 5 months. Now the Government has allowed people to enter Thailand without being subjected to quarantine. This is unacceptable. We want to know why they have that privilege,” said Ms. Tatya, demanding that someone be held accountable.
In Rayong’s Muang district, two youths at the D Varee Diva Central Rayong Hotel, who held posters demanding that the Prime Minister be held accountable, were whisked away by police prior to his arrival.
The Government entourage received a briefing from the provincial governor, about the COVID-19 situation in the province, before they left for Passione Mall, to offer moral support to the people waiting for him. They later visited the Star wet market, where the Prime Minister spoke with about 20 vendors.
A scheduled press conference was cancelled and the group flew back to Bangkok.