Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday urged people to download onto their smartphone a Covid-19 contact-tracing app called “Mor Chana”. However, there would be no punishments for those who do not download it, so long as they inform officials of their travel plans when crossing provincial borders.
Someone not using the Mor-Chana or Thai Chana application will not be charged with a crime. Concealing information of their whereabouts is, however, a crime, punishable under the directive.
CONTROL AREAS TRAVEL UPDATE
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) announced on Wednesday that those who have travelled in red zone districts and ‘high-risk’ provinces since 15 December up to the present are required to undergo BMA’s Covid-19 screening process.
RAPID TESTING DISCLAIMER
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Thailand has warned the public not to buy the COVID-19 Rapid Test and use it themselves because the rapid test is a test for antibodies only; it cannot detect the virus or indicate if the user is infected with the virus.
Our body has to get infected with the virus for a while, and then the tester can detect the antibodies. But if the user recently gets infected with the virus, the tester cannot detect it. So it is easy to get a faulty negative reading in the result.
The rapid tester should be used and the results interpreted only by specialists or medical technicians. This tester is medical equipment that can be sold only to medical centers or medical and public health practitioners, and the sale must be reported to the FDA.
The first round of vaccination against coronavirus will open for registration at the end of January, the government announced Friday.
A statement released by the Department of Disease Control said “vulnerable groups,” living in the five provinces with highest risk of infection will be prioritized in the registration, which will open “either at the end of this month or early February.”
The five provinces are Chonburi, Samut Sakhon, Trat, Rayong, and Chanthaburi.
Up to 2 million doses will be given in the campaign, covering about 1 million people living in those provinces, the statement quoted the Department of Disease Control director.
The government says it is not blocking the private sector from importing a COVID-19 vaccine, but every step of the safety review process must be followed.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said importing a vaccine must first be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Medical Sciences so it is effective and safe.
According to the Public Health Ministry, the first batch of vaccines, expected by the end of January, is also to be certified by the FDA before use.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY FALTERS
Thailand’s economy could lose as much as 300 billion baht ($10 billion) in the first quarter after its largest covid-19 outbreak saw consumer mood sink to a five-month low in December, according to the Chamber of Commerce.
The consumer confidence index dropped for the first time in three months to 50.1 in December – when the new spread was detected – from 52.4 in November, as consumers feared a surge in inflections would hit the economy and jobs, a survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce showed on Thursday.
“If the situation does not improve in January, consumer confidence could drop to a record low over the next two months,” university president Thanavath Phonvichai told a briefing. The index hit a record low of 39.2 last April during the peak of the first coronavirus wave.
The impact of the new outbreak is expected at 200 billion to 300 billion baht in the first quarter, Thanavath told Reuters. New virus restrictions, including closures of entertainment venues and schools in the capital Bangkok and other provinces, could hamper Thailand’s fledgling economic recovery, analysts say.
“It’s likely that the economy will contract in the first quarter, by 4% if there is a soft lockdown but by 11.3% if it is a hard lockdown,” Thanavath said. The university now predicts the economy will grow 2.2% this year versus 2.8% earlier, he said, adding the government would need at least 200 billion baht to shore up the economy.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s biggest opposition party plans to begin a process for a no confidence debate against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha and his government on January 27th.
The debate is expected to last seven days and will focus on “the government’s mismanagement” and its Covid-19 response, which has caused “damage to the country,” according to Prasert Jantararuangthong, secretary of Thailand’s largest opposition party, Pheu Thai.