24 May 2024

Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Kiattibhoom Vongrachit has been ordered by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to immediately visit Thailand’s four southern border provinces, where COVID-19 infections are steadily rising, and to bring the situation under control within two months.

Government Spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said yesterday (Wednesday) that the prime minister is very concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic in the border provinces, with a target of reducing the infection rate by 10%per week.

He also said that the prime minister would like to see the provincial communicable disease committee in each province tighten up restrictions, reduce social gatherings, arrange easy access to rapid antigen test kits (ATKs), define “COVID-free Setting Area” and prepare space in hospitals to accommodate patients with moderate or serious symptoms.

Thanakorn disclosed that the Public Health Ministry has already sent one million tablets of the Favipiravir anti-viral medicine, 20,000 ATKs, 100 oxygen concentrators, 25,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine and 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine to Songkhla, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

According to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), the infection rate in the four southernmost provinces remains high, with all of them among Thailand’s top ten provinces for daily infections yesterday.

Assistant CCSA Spokesperson Dr. Apisamai Srirangsanattributed the high daily infection rates in the southern border provinces, the majority being Malay Muslims, to men customarily gathering together for morning tea and religious gatherings without wearing face masks.

She also pointed out that several people there are reluctant to be vaccinated due to disinformation.  She urged the media to help to promote the merits of vaccination.