Medics at Khon Kaen University Hospital to rally against face mask shortage

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Medical personnel at the Srinakharin Hospital of Khon Kaen University, in Thailand’s northeast, are being urged to rally in front of the hospital’s library today (Monday) at 4.30pm to protest against the shortage of face masks.

The call for the demonstration was made by Professor Dr. Veerachai Kwosuwan, former lecturer at the Medical Science Faculty of Khon Kaen University, to highlight alleged mismanagement of mask distribution by the Ministry of Commerce.

Political activist Srisuwan Janya, meanwhile, has urged Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to fire Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit and director-general of the Internal Trade Department, Mr. Vichai Pochanakit, for their alleged failure to ensure sufficient face masks to meet domestic demand, especially for medical personnel on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.

Face masks have disappeared from all convenience and drug stores across the country, while online traders are offering several millions of them for sale, in big lots and at exorbitant prices, apparently giving preference to Chinese customers.

In a written statement to the media on Sunday, Mr. Theparak Suratharnnont, chief advisor to the Association of Drug Stores, said that the association has never received its quota of 25,000 face masks a day, allocated by the Internal Trade Department, as claimed by its director-general and called on the Internal Trade Department, or other authorities concerned, to supply the masks to the association, so they can be distributed to drug stores for sale to the public.

#SaveMamPodum went viral on Twitter today, voicing support for the popular website “Mam Podum”, after it implied that a close aide to Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao is in possession about 200 million face masks.

Thammanat told the media today that his aide, Mr. Pittinan Rak-iad, admitted to him that he had met with trader Mr. Sornsuvee Phuraveeraswatcharee at a hotel in Bangkok, who claimed to have plenty of face masks for sale, adding that his aide had claimed that they didn’t discuss the purchase of the face masks, that this was their first meeting and that he didn’t have any connection with the trader.

The deputy agriculture minister said he advised Mr. Pittinan to lodge a complaint with the police, seeking an investigation of the trader for alleged hoarding.

When asked about this issue this morning by reporters, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha just walked away.



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