Restrictive measures including travel restrictions proposed amid rising COVID-19 deaths
Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health is proposing to the operations centre of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) today (Thursday), further restrictive measures such as travel restrictions from and to Bangkok and five nearby provinces for at least 14 days as well as closures of more venues, as daily new COVID-19 death toll surged to a new high today of 75, while infections also soared to 7,059.
According to the Disease Control Department (DCD), the proposed travel restrictions are to be called “self-bubble and seal”, with the aim of limiting travel from home, to increase working from home, to negate the need for 70% percent of the normal travel by office workers. The new measures, covering over Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon, Nakhon Pathom and Samut Prakan, are an attempt to contain the rapid spread of the Delta coronavirus variant if approved.
Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Kiattiphum Wongrachit, who chaired the Public Health Ministry’s emergency operations centre (EOC) meeting this morning, said that the main reason for the proposed restrictions, is to reduce the number of daily new infections in Bangkok and its vicinities and to ensure that the health system has the capacity to help those who need it the most.
Dr. Kiattiphum said that the EOC meeting acknowledged the latest report on new infections, the fact that most of them are concentrated in and around Bangkok and the current pressure on hospitals and medics resulting from the rising trend in infections.
He said that the EOC is also proposing that the CCSA’s operations centre increase the use of rapid antigen tests at hospitals, which can produce results in 20 minutes, in place of the RT-PCR tests, which can take 3-5 hours or longer, adding that, in case of positive results from rapid antigen tests, a test by the RT-PCR method will then be administered.
The EOC will also propose an adjustment to guidelines, regarding home isolation, to make the measure much easier and conducive to the current situation. Under the plan, those with mild symptoms will be subject to home or community isolation and can live with the other family members, but are required to observe strict social distancing, wear face masks at all times and wash their hands regularly.
Accelerating vaccinations in high-risk areas, among those who are over 60 and for those afflicted with any of the seven underlying diseases, to achieve at least 80% inoculation within 1-2 weeks, will also be discussed
Other measures being proposed include restrictions on cross-border travel and venues and activities, which are considered to pose a high risk, with the exception of markets and supermarkets.
Dr. Kiattiphum said that that the ministry wants everyone in the high-risk zones to stay at home “to stop the disease for the nation” unless it is necessary to buy food, see doctors or to get vaccinated, adding that the restrictions being proposed are similar to those imposed during April last year.
Any decision by the CCSA’s operations centre will be submitted to the CCSA, chaired by the prime minister, for conclusion. It is reported that the CCSA has decided to move its meeting from Monday to tomorrow (Friday), due to the urgency of the situation.