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Prayut returns as prime minister

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  • PM denies backing junta govt

    The government on Monday denied allegations that it was supporting Myanmar and its use of force against its own people, saying it is preparing for a possible surge of refugees as the political conflict across the border escalates.

    "In what ways do we support Myanmar troops? Nobody supports use of violence against the people," Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said when asked about claims the government was providing aid to Myanmar troops.

    Gen Prayut made the remark when he spoke to the media at Government House on Monday -- two days after at least 90 Myanmar citizens, including several children, were killed after Myanmar's security forces opened fire on anti-coup protesters. As the death toll since the Feb 1 coup soared to over 460 on Monday, the Myanmar junta staged a major show of might for its annual Armed Forces Day.

    The prime minister also defended the Thai military's decision to send representatives to attend the Armed Forces Day celebrations, saying Thailand needs to engage and maintain a communications channel.

    "It is a military channel. We need mechanisms which will enable us to follow political developments in Myanmar. The countries share a border and we will be affected," he said.

    Gen Prayut said authorities were preparing for a possible flood of refugees fleeing the violence in Myanmar.

    "We don't want an exodus into our territory, but we will observe human rights, too," Gen Prayut said while declining to estimate the number of people who might flee across the border.

    Gen Prayut said economic activities between Thailand and Myanmar are continuing as usual because they are vital to the livelihoods of people in both countries.

    However, he said the government will have to carefully weigh this against measures imposed by Asean and other international organisations.

    Meanwhile, when asked about political violence in Myanmar, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon on Monday said that Thailand will remain committed to Asean's non-inference principle.

    When asked about the crackdown on anti-coup protesters, Gen Prawit said: "I don't get involved. I don't look."

    In the border province of Mae Song Hon, authorities were preparing for a surge of refugees following reports of air strikes near the Thai-Myanmar border.

    Thai villagers in tambon Mae Sam Lap in Sop Moei district told district officials they spotted aircraft from Myanmar on Monday afternoon.

    It was reported that about 3,000 Karen villagers crossed the Salween River from Myanmar into Thailand's Mae Hong Son province on Sunday out of fear of another air strike on Sunday.

    Governor Sitthichai Chindaluang said on Monday measures have been rolled out to accommodate refugees, with the Naresuan Task Force put in charge of handling the refugees.

    He said that those who fled out of panic would be asked to return while those who fled out of fear for their safety will be sheltered on a humanitarian basis. He said the refugees will only be allowed to remain near the border.

    A source said that almost 2,200 people fled across the border to Mae Hong Son's Mae Sariang district after airstrikes on a military base controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU), which is located opposite Mae Sariang district, killed one soldier and injured two others.

    Meanwhile, Singapore's foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan has called the situation in Myanmar "an unfolding tragedy", saying it is essential for Southeast Asian countries to have a stance on the matter.

    "It is going to take quite some time to resolve. I must confess to you that I am pessimistic," Mr Balakrishnan, according to a transcript released on Monday.

    Mr Balakrishnan has spoken strongly about the coup and the subsequent deadly crackdown. He has been pushing for Asean to play a more active role in finding a way out of the crisis.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • UDD leader Jatuporn to lead protest against PM Prayut on April 4

      United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) chairman Jatuporn Promphan has vowed to lead a prolonged protest, with the ultimate goal of toppling the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

      Jatuporn, who has been sitting on the sidelines, observing the political situation since his release from prison in August 2018, said in his Facebook live address on Wednesday that the political situation in Thailand is at a critical point and that he can no longer sit idly by and must respond to the call, by Adul Khieuboriboon, leader of the relatives of the victims of the “Black May” event in 1992, for mass protests.

      He said that the protest will be modelled after the “Black May” event in 1992, in which people of all political shades joined together to fight for democracy against dictatorship.

      The leader of the UDD, which is now seen as a spent political force in Thailand, admitted that he is looked down upon by several politicians, among them Senator Somchai Sawengkarn, who said that he will never be able to mobilize a big following, as he did in the past.

      Jatuporn expects people from various political camps and ideologies to join the protest on April 4th.

      He blamed Prime Minister Prayut for being the main source of the problems besetting Thailand and said he must be removed for the betterment of the country and its people:

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • BMA considers field hospitals as health officials warn COVID-19 infections may increase exponentially

        Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered the Ministry of Interior and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to arrange space for the setting up of a field hospital in Bangkok, in case COVID-19 infections increase beyond the capacity of the capital’s regular hospitals.

        He assured, however, that the current situation in Bangkok is still under control, but warned the public not to lower their guard and to observe basic safety guidelines strictly, such as wearing face masks, observing social distancing and avoiding high risk venues.

        While expressing concern over the pandemic situation, the prime minister said that he does not want to order all entertainment outlets nationwide to close, while noting that those which fail to follow the guidelines strictly will be shut down immediately.

        Regarding the Songkran festival next week, when many people are expected to travel extensively and visit elderly people to receive blessings, the prime minister said that he would prefer to see people exercise more caution and avoid gathering together in large numbers, which will put them at risk of infection, adding that the water sprinkling ritual at Government House has been cancelled.

        Meanwhile, Dr. Opas Karnkavinpong, director-general of the Disease Control Department, warned that new infections may increase to over 1,000 per day, if there are no effective restrictions or controls during Songkran.

        The Thonglor cluster has already infected 291 people in Bangkok and several other provinces since March 22nd, but the numbers will jump and the disease may spread quickly across the country if there are no or lax restrictions over Songkran.

        Dr. Yong Poovorawan, chief of the clinical virology centre at Chulalongkorn University, said that the virus, which is now spreading from the Thonglor cluster, is the UK strain, which can spread 1.7 times faster than previous strains.

        From simulated forecasts, he said that infections this year could be ten times higher than last year’s and, if restrictive measures this year are ten times more lenient, there is a likelihood that the infections this year may spiral up to 100 times higher than last year.:

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • PM orders 14-day shutdown of any entertainment venue, restaurant with Covid-19 infection

          Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an immediate 14-day shutdown of entertainment venues or restaurants where a Covid-19 infection is found, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri confirmed on Thursday.

          “The measure has been effective since April 5 in a bid to prevent Covid-19 from spreading further after a new outbreak linked to entertainment venues such as pubs, bars and karaoke parlours,” he said.

          “If an infection is found at any of these businesses, it will be shut down for at least two weeks. In case infections are found across many businesses in the same area, they will all be shut for at least 14 days,” he clarified.

          Anucha said restaurants were still allowed to open, but they have to employ strict Covid-19 preventive measures. “If any infection is found at any restaurant, it will be ordered shut for at least two weeks as well,” he said.

          “The prime minister also granted the communicable disease committee in each province the power to consider shutting down any business for at least two weeks if it is related to an outbreak in their province,” Anucha said.

          “In case of an emergency situation, the provincial governor could issue a temporary shutdown order on public places such as markets, meeting halls, theatres and schools, provided that such an order is approved by the provincial communicable disease committee,” added Anucha.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Poor old Uncle Tu -


            • Originally posted by S Landreth View Post
              [SIZE=14px]PM orders 14-day shutdown of any entertainment venue, restaurant with Covid-19 infection
              good idea
              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • Greater BKK and CM on new lockdown alert.


                • Originally posted by S Landreth View Post
                  PM orders 14-day shutdown of any entertainment venue, restaurant with Covid-19 infection
                  shutdown all large gathering
                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • PM mulls filing suit if people say 'Thai Khu Fa Club'

                    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Friday he was considering taking legal action against anyone who used the expression "Thai Khu Fa Club" to mock the government amid reports a minister had contracted Covid-19 at a nightclub in Thong Lor.

                    "I have ordered the legal team to consider whether it is against the law or not. Using the term Thai Khu Fa ... is not [right]," Gen Prayut said.

                    The 101-year-old Thai Khu Fa building houses the Prime Minister's Office and is located in the grounds of Government House.

                    Gen Prayut was speaking after some people made fun of the place to link it with a new Covid-19 cluster linked to entertainment venues in Bangkok's Thong Lor area, where a minister is rumoured to have caught the virus. He added that the government could not prohibit anyone from visiting nightclubs.

                    Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and other ministers currently in quarantine were doing fine, Gen Prayut said. They were working from home via video conferencing and other apps.

                    Meanwhile, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob on Friday sent a current photo of himself to the media to show he was healthy despite having Covid-19.

                    Mr Saksayam tested positive on April 7 and is being treated at Buriram Hospital.

                    The Buriram provincial public health department on Thursday published the minister's timeline from March 23–April 7 on Facebook but he has since deleted the post, saying there were some mistakes that needed to be fixed.

                    The minister's published timeline did not contain an entertainment venue.

                    Mr Saksayam asked his lawyer to file a complaint with the police against a Twitter user who posted a video clip of a nightclub in Thong Lor. The user used hashtags that could make people believe that a man in the clip was Mr Saksayam, the lawyer said.

                    Kittichai Reangsawat, a Bhumjaithai Party MP for Chachoengsao, denied reports he had caught Covid when he accompanied the infected minister to the Thong Lor nightclub, saying it probably happened while he was out dining with a friend on April 4.:

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • Seems the PM is upset
                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • Thai PM says no lockdowns or curfews yet

                        Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha assured today (Friday) that the government will not yet impose lockdowns or curfews in order to contain the COVID-19 spread, adding that he felt the pain every time such restrictions were imposed in the past, because they hurt a lot of people, especially low income, grassroots people.

                        Speaking to the media, after chairing a meeting of the CCSA this afternoon, the prime minister asked people not to panic about lockdowns or a curfew, noting that the restrictions were imposed before because they were deemed necessary at the time, despite their impacts on the economy.

                        In the end, he said, Thailand managed to control the first wave of COVID-19 and won worldwide praise for the achievement.

                        For the current outbreak, he admitted that he cannot make a decision without taking into consideration the repercussions on the people and has to listen to the diverse views of all stakeholders.

                        In the wake of the current rapid spread of the disease, he stressed the need for tight controls to contain it and to reduce the damage.

                        On the vaccination program, the prime minister said that health officials have continued to inoculate people, while the Government Pharmaceutical Organization has been trying to procure more vaccines to achieve the target of having 60% of the population inoculated, to develop herd immunity.

                        He noted that, for the time being, COVID-19 vaccines can only be procured through government-to-government deals, hence, it is impossible for the GPO to sell the vaccines to the private sector and they must be distributed to private hospitals through the Association of Private Hospitals.

                        He added that attempts are underway to procure the Sputnik vaccine from Russia.

                        The prime minister also urged retired medics to help out in the vaccination campaign, to speed up the process to cover every province.

                        He explained that being vaccinated does not mean that a person will not contract the virus, but the vaccine will boost their immunity so they will not get infected easily and will not spread the disease to other people.

                        He said that he was pleased that about 90% of Thai people are wearing face masks in public, but expressed concern that social distancing is still not being strictly observed.:

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • Prayut won't join Asean summit on Myanmar

                          Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has decided to opt out of an Asean summit in Jakarta and send the foreign minister to represent Thailand at the meeting, a government source said on Monday.

                          The source did not elaborate on the decision of the prime minister to stay home by sending Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, who also is a deputy prime minister, to join other Southeast Asian leaders on the situation in Myanmar.

                          The special summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will be convened in the Indonesian capital on Saturday to seek a solution to the deteriorating crisis in Myanmar.

                          The Thai Foreign Ministry said on Saturday Myanmar army chief Gen Min Aung Hlaing will take part in the high-level talks.

                          Myanmar's shadow government also urged Asean leaders to give it an opportunity to attend the much-anticipated summit.

                          More than 700 people were killed in nationwide protests against the junta after the coup on Feb 1 that overthrew elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and instead charged her on multiple accounts.:

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                            • PM insists 61 million doses of COVID vaccines this year should be enough for Thailand

                            Thailand will have procured up to 61 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of this year, which should be sufficient to cope with the pandemic, said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha today (Tuesday), as he revealed the timeline for vaccine procurements.

                            317,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine from China were received in February, 800,000 doses in March and a million doses in April, with another batch of a million doses scheduled for delivery in May.

                            Negotiations also are under way for more Sinovac vaccine, which are yet to be approved by Chinese government, said the prime minister.

                            Between 4 and 6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, to be produced locally by Siam Bioscience, are to be delivered in June, he said, and the amount will increase throughout the rest of the year, until 61 million doses will have procured.

                            “This is not too late or too little,” said the prime minister, adding that talks are being held with Pfizer for 5 to 10 million doses, expected between July and the end of the year.

                            As for the procurement of the Favipiravir anti-viral drug, he said the government will purchase an additional 3.5 million tablets, which are expected to be delivered to Thailand in three batches – two million in May, one million in June and 500,000 tablets in July.

                            The prime minister also said that he has instructed all provinces to be ready to set up field hospitals and appealed to all COVID-19 patients to cooperate fully with medical personnel and to observe health safety measures strictly.:
                            • Thailand to buy another 35m doses of COVID-19 vaccine from other companies

                            Thailand will procure an additional 35 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from other 2 or 3 companies, on top of the 65 million from Sinovac and AstraZeneca, according to a post on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s Facebook on Wednesday morning.

                            The decision to buy the additional doses was reached at a meeting of the working committee, tasked with procuring COVID-19 vaccines.

                            Chaired by former public health minister Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, the committee comprises representatives from the Public Health Ministry, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, the Food and Drugs Administration and the Association of Private Hospitals.

                            Of the 35 million doses to be purchased, the prime minister said that the private sector, led by the Board of Trade of Thailand, has offered to ease the government’s financial burden by funding the purchase of between 10 and 15 million doses, for employees of private companies.

                            He also said that officials have been instructed to distribute all the available vaccine doses, so that they can be administered by the end of this year.:
                            • We put safety first: Prayut

                            Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday defended the government's vaccination programme, insisting it had not been overly slow, nor unjustly favoured one producer over another.

                            His remarks followed criticism that the government had been slow in procuring and distributing vaccines, even as the country struggled with the latest wave of Covid-19 infections.

                            "Initially, the purchases Thailand made were based on the situation at that time, when we were successful in containing the outbreak," he said.

                            Back then, said the PM, his government did not want to put people's lives at risk since some of the available vaccines used untried technology.

                            Now those vaccines have been successfully used elsewhere, the government has allowed their manufacturers to make proposals and the government was considering ways to buy from them.

                            "Let me be clear. It's not that we acted too late or too little," said Gen Prayut. "Everything depends on the situation at a given time. We didn't want to subject people to risk when the vaccine was first produced. Several countries opted to do the same."

                            He assured that the vaccines Thailand now had were being administered quickly and efficiently.

                            "The idea of monopolising a local vaccination never crossed our mind," he said. "All we have ever thought about is safety. We can't afford to make the shots freely available because they are for emergency use only and the manufacturers won't be liable for undesirable side effects."

                            Gen Prayut pointed out that he had also responded to calls, especially from social media users, to allow the private sector to import vaccines from manufacturers other than the two which the government had already bought -- AstraZeneca and CoronaVac by Sinovac Biotech. He had set up a panel to consider the private sector's purchase of vaccines, he added.

                            The panel is led by Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, adviser to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

                            Regarding people's access to vaccines, the prime minister said the Public Health Ministry would allow the public to book vaccination appointments through the "Mor Prom'' mobile app on May 1.

                            Exactly how many people would be vaccinated on a voluntary basis remained to be seen, he said.

                            The prime minister said his government was also awaiting price quotes from US-based vaccine producer Pfizer before going ahead with plans to buy 5-10 million doses of its vaccine.

                            "I can't confirm [whether Thailand will get it or not] but if all goes well, 5-10 million doses can be delivered as soon as July. The government is not dragging its feet," he said.

                            As of Tuesday, more than 2.1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have arrived in Thailand.

                            In February, 200,000 doses came from Sinovac and another 117,000 doses from AstraZeneca, while in March, 800,000 more doses came from Sinovac and another 1 million doses from the same producer this month.

                            Some 500,000 more doses of the Sinovac vaccine will arrive on Saturday and a further one million doses are expected to be delivered next month if the shipments are approved by the Chinese government, the prime minister said. In addition, about 4-6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Siam Bioscience, the local biotechnology firm contracted to manufacture the Covid-19 vaccine in Thailand, will be gradually rolled out from June.

                            The number of doses will be increased from July and reach 61 million by the end of the year, he said.:
                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                            • PM orders more personnel for Covid-19 hotlines after his calls went unanswered

                              Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered that more personnel be deployed to man the 1668 and 1669 Covid-19 hotlines and helplines after nobody answered his call.

                              “I tried both numbers, but nobody answered. I want to find out if this is because there are too few health personnel manning the lines, or if they are too busy tending to patients in hospitals,” he said.

                              Prayut said now that private hospitals have also joined the battle against Covid, he does not want to hear that ambulances are unwilling to pick up patients because there are no beds available.

                              “I want the Public Health Ministry to urgently deal with this problem. I can’t accept the fact that entire families are getting infected because they are being denied medical help,” the premier said.

                              Meanwhile, Dr Apisamai Srirangsan, spokesperson for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), admitted at a press conference on Wednesday that there are not enough people to answer thousands of calls on the two numbers. She advised people to remain calm as health workers are doing their best in ensuring every patient has a bed and promised that the CCSA will try to solve this problem as soon as possible.:

                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • PM assures Thai people that government will lead country through COVID crisis

                                Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has assured the Thai people that he and his government will explore all means to get Thailand through the current crisis, posed by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

                                He also appealed to people to join his government in the fight against the disease, saying he has confidence in the capacity of people to overcome this crisis.

                                In a national broadcast tonight (Friday), he stressed that his government and the CCSA are well-prepared to cope with the new round of infections, including the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and anti-viral medications, such as Favipiravir for the treatment of infected patients, and management of hospital beds to accommodate the sick.

                                Regarding COVID-19 vaccines, the prime minister said that about 100 million doses of vaccines will be procured, to inoculate 50 million Thais this year.

                                Currently, about 2.1 million doses have been received and half of them have been administered to about 840,000 people, most of them frontline medical personnel. 65 million doses of AstraZeneca and Sinovac have been procured, although most of them are yet to be delivered, and another 36 million doses of other vaccine brands are also on order, including up to 10 million doses of the Sputnik-V version from Russia.

                                On the treatment of those already sick, the prime minister said there are now 300,000 Favipiravir tablets distributed to various hospitals, with two million more to be imported.

                                Regarding financial measures, to ease the economic impacts, he said the government has set aside 380 billion baht for rehabilitation and recovery, as he urged the public to trust the government.:

                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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