The bad news that came out of last week’s Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration meeting was that January’s coronavirus restrictions will continue unchanged. The good news was that they didn’t get tighter.
As recently as a week before the Feb. 11 meeting, lower-level Public Health Ministry officials were talking about a loosening of rules and allowing Thais to “get back to work and normal life”. The widespread expectation on the street was that the 11 p.m. curfew for alcohol sales in restaurants and bars (that, of course, aren’t supposed to be open) would be moved back to midnight.
Then, led by Bangkok, the number of new, daily coronavirus cases exploded again, doubling to more than 14,000 a day, with another 8,000 positive cases found through unofficial antigen tests.
Suddenly, instead of loosening, there was fear the CCSA – spurred by blowhard, anti-fun Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, would go the other way and actually cut hours and add restrictions.
Thankfully for everyone except Anutin, cooler heads prevailed. While new Covid-19 infections surged to a five-month high – peaking last week at 16,330 – deaths have remained a relatively low levels.
On Monday, Thailand’s reported 14,900 cases, down again slightly for a second consecutive day, and 26 deaths. One worrying sign: ICU patients jumped by 68 to 687. Deaths and ICU bed use lags cases by about two weeks.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said infection numbers are rising despite there being fewer severe cases. The public is therefore urged to continue taking precautions and following disease prevention guidelines.
The premier said healthcare facilities have enough capacity to accommodate patients and noted that the government has been addressing pressing issues with budgetary and time limitations to consider.
So things remain status “woe” for now, with CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin saying the CCSA chose to do nothing, rather than lock down again.
People in the “blue zone” tourism pilot provinces, where infection numbers have been climbing, are urged to strictly observe health measures in order to curb transmissions.
Taweesilp noted that more children are contracting the omicron coronavirus variant during this wave of outbreaks compared to the previous selta variant. Authorities are therefore encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible.
The CCSA meeting also endorsed the issuance of antigen test kit services that are more accessible and economical for the public.
Taweeslip said up to 56,000 ATKs are expected to sell daily from March 1 onward. The price per kit is projected to drop to 55 baht by then, from 80 baht currently.