Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thailand to extend state of emergency amid fears of second Covid-19 wave



Thailand to extend state of emergency amid fears of second Covid-19 wave

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The one-month extension is the fifth since the initial order in March. AFP

Thailand to extend state of emergency amid fears of second Covid-19 wave

Thailand plans to extend its state of emergency till the end of next month to stave off a potential second wave of coronavirus infections, despite not recording any local transmission for close to three months.

The one-month extension is the fifth since the initial order in March.

“We can’t afford to have any second wave of infections, especially now we are in the normal phase . . . opening businesses and restarting activities,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Natapanu Nopakun told a Friday briefing by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Officials say the emergency decree allows the state to cut red tape and streamline its response to the Covid-19 outbreak, adding that it does not affect people’s daily lives since the country lifted its curfew in June.

However, the blighted economic outlook has helped fuel anti-government protests led by young people, which continue to gather steam nationwide. On Sunday, over 10,000 people massed in Bangkok demanding that the Constitution be amended and fresh elections be called.

Thailand so far has detected 3,390 infections, including an additional imported case reported on Friday. New outbreaks in erstwhile regional front runners like Vietnam and New Zealand have put Thai officials on their guard.

Still, ASEAN’s second-largest economy has allowed state schools to resume normal operations last week instead of staggering attendance.

Spectators will also be allowed back into stadiums next month for the local football league.

Strict border controls continue to batter Thailand’s tourism- and export-dependent economy, which shrank 12.2 per cent in the April-to-June quarter from a year earlier, the sharpest contraction since the Asian financial crisis in 1998.

Thailand’s central bank expects a full-year decline of 8.1 per cent.

Hotel and airfare subsidies to stimulate domestic tourism have so far drawn a tepid response, prompting the government to look into raising the benefits and extending them to corporate travellers.

The poor jobs outlook is fuelling mounting protests around the country, with demonstrators criticising inequality which they say is perpetuated by the military-backed government led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a former army chief who staged the 2014 coup.

The peaceful protests, which started in university campuses and have gradually moved to the streets, have been swelled in recent weeks.

Protesters have also begun calling for a reform of the monarchy, a subject previously considered untouchable in a kingdom where defaming or insulting the king, queen or heir apparent is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

High school students have also rallied in support of the protesters by wearing white ribbons and doing three-finger salutes while singing the national anthem.

In response to reports of school administrators intimidating these students, the state has reminded schools to allow students lawful expression of dissent.

Scores of activists arrested this week and later released on bail included Arnon Nampa, a lawyer who first made the call for monarchy reform, as well as a musician Dechathorn Bamrungmuang whose group’s rap against the government has gone viral.

They have been charged with sedition and other offences like violating health and traffic regulations.

THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer