Advance Blog

August 17, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 17 August 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)3rd dose vaccine recipients (from 16 July)
20,128 (272 from prisons); (excluding ATK 2,102)948,442 (last seven days: 152,491)5,536/ 1,169730,437 (+20,791)919,57918,370,997 (+374,171)BKK:6,034,439 (+44,619)501,477 (+15,646)BKK: 126,312 (+4,636)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccination (doses)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)Average tests in the last seven days
19,846 [16,349  (get tested in hospital) + 3,497 (active case finding)]10 (in SQ)210,032 [155,093 in field hospital]221,873 (+4,397)7,973 (+239) (last seven days: 1,385)24,100,631 (+508,498)BKK:7,478,871 (+74,107)5,228,157 (+118,681)BKK:1,318,120 (+24,852)50,151
  • Amid the supply shortage, Thailand is seeking to borrow 150,000 doses of the AstraZeneca from Bhutan.–Reuters
  • The CCSA has made a resolution to extend the current lockdown measures until the end of August. The only additional relaxation is the reopening of the financial institutions in the malls.
    • The CCSA ordered isolation measures plus ATK screening for companies and organisations with more than 50 employees in the drak red zones which are still coming to work from offices on weekly basis.
    • The CCSA has ordered companies with more than 50 employees to prepare company isolation, if needed.
    • Vaccinated foreign tourists who spend seven days on Phuket will also be allowed to access seven other locations – Khao Lak, Koh Yao Yai and Yai Noi in Phangnga, Phi Phi and Railey beach in Krabi, Koh Ngai in Trang, and Koh Samui, Phangan and Tao islands in Surat Thani.—Nation Thailand
    • The CCSA will has ordered large wholesale market to occasionally test its customers with ATK.
    • The CCSA will also consider issuing Thaicovid pass allowing the fully vaccinated people to dine in air-conditioned restaurants. The same way that other countries are doing.—Prachachat Turakij
  • The CCSA spokesperson said that the Thai Public Health will order additional 10 million doses of Pfizer vaccines and 12 million doses of Sinovac vaccines, claiming that the internal study has shown the four times more effectiveness of the ‘Thai cocktail’ (Sinovac + AstraZeneca) comparing to two Sinovac and two AZ jabs.–Matichon
  • Thammasat University with its affiliated hospital has a resolution to import COVID vaccines in the same way the Royal Chulabhorn Institute has imported Sinopharm vaccines.—Prachachat Turakij

Politics

  • Talu Fah Group has called for the other gathering this afternoon at the Ratchaprasong intersection. The organiser called for the non-violent actions.—Thai Rath
  • Yesterday, the Opposition has submitted six ministers, including the PM to be on grill for the upcoming censure debate:
    • The usual debate arose between the main opposition Phau Thai Party and the second-largest Move Forward Party on the allegations of the former secretly siding with the government to drop names of the Deputy PM Prawit and Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat out of the list.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The secretary-general of the Move Forward Party said that the party aimed to set Deputy PM Prawit on grill, but it was the Opposition parties’ resolution not to put the name of the political juggernaut on the list and the party will comply with the resolution.—Prachachat Turakij
    • A senior opposition MP has conceded to Thai Enquirer that it is no chance that the censure debate will hurt or do anything to the government and that the current administration will likely last the full term despite its Covid-19 mismanagement. The senior figure who asked not to be named due to party policy said that the key factor lies with the coalition but “it is almost as if there is an outside hand forcing them to stay there.”—Thai Enquirer
  • The Police was accused of using live bullets against two protestors, one of which is under coma condition.
    • The Rajavithi Hospital announced that the twenty-year-old make patient did not breath for 6 minutes and found a bullet in the brain stem. The patient is still in coma with the help of ventilator.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The head of the police station where there was report on police shooting at the protestor came out to deny that there was a use of live bullet and affirmed that there was only rubber bullet used.—Thai Rath   
  • Student-led protest leader Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak is tested Covid positive when being detained in prison. His infection has caused concerns for many as he has asthma as underlying condition.—Prachachat Turakij
  • Protestor guards We Volunteer issued the statement calling for the seize of the violence use by the state to disperse the protestors.
  • In a bid to step up its heavily criticised communication, The PM has approved the set-up of a crisis communication centre with the PMO Minister as the chairperson and the former PDRC leader and anti-democracy communication academia Seri Wongmontha as the editor-in-chief of the centre responsible for outlining communication strategy for the CCSA.—Krungthep Turakij
  • After the campaign by animal rights group PETA, the Thai-US joint military training Cobra Gold will not involve the drinking of cobra blood-its iconic activity.—Krungthep Turakij

Economic:

  • Bank of Thailand (BOT) has revised Thailand’s 2021 GDP growth forecast down to 0.7 percent from 3 percent.  As the Thai economy is dependent on tourism, BOT expects it will take 3 years to fully recover to pre-pandemic level, lagging behind the rest of Asia that will rebound in 2 years.  Recovery will be K-shape and uneven, with some sectors such as export rebounding before others, such as tourism.
  • BOT advised the government to borrow another 1 trillion Baht to stimulate the economy and fuel Thailand’s economic expansion in the next 10 years.  This additional borrowing would raise Thailand’s public debt ratio to 70 percent of GDP by 2024, but it is not a concern given the country’s sound foreign reserve.  BOT also suggested the government widen its revenue collection base and consider raising value-added-tax in the future. 
  • The fiscal injection should address 2 key issues, namely falling household income that is set to decrease by 2.6 trillion Baht from 2020-2022 and rising unemployment/underemployment which will tally 3.4 million people by year-end.  The BOT will also implement short and long-term debt aid measures to tackle the ballooning debt level.  Source:  Bangkok Post Khaosod Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 17 August 2021 
  • Thailand is seeing an increase in the number of unemployed or barely employed, although they are not counted in the official statistics because Thailand – using International Labour Organization guidelines – doesn’t consider as unemployed a person who works at least 1 hour a week.  Also, more than half of the roughly 38 million in the Thai workforce are in the informal sector and are not included in the jobless data.  These factors keep Thailand’s official unemployment rate low, however, this masks a number of problems.  NESDC’s latest published Thai unemployment rate for Q1 2021 was 1.96 percent; a 12-year high, yet NESDC expects the rate to rise further as COVID-19 infection has surged since May.  A 2 percent unemployment rate in Thailand would be considered a ‘crisis’. 
  • TDRI noted that the unreliable labour statistics continuously failed to raise an alert about Thailand’s labour issues to draw correct policy response.  Among the unaddressed issues is the revamping of Thailand’s education system, which is not teaching the skills workers will need in a digital economy.  If many more jobs are lost, it could drive young people without prospects to go back in the streets as they did in 2019 and 2020.  In fact, currently the rallies are gathering steam again.  Source:  Asia Nikkei
  • CCSA has approved the implementation of the 7+7 extension plan in connection with the Phuket Sandbox scheme.  From 16 August onward, visitors at the Phuket sandbox scheme will be required to stay in Phuket for only 7 days.  From day 8-14, they can travel by boat to other designated destinations comprising Surat Thani province’s Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao; Phangnga province’s Khao Lak, Kho Yao Yao and Koh Yao Noi; and Krabi province’s Koh Phi Phi, Railay Beach and Koh Ngai.  CCSA also permitted for every sandbox area to receive tourists who are vaccinated with Sputnik V vaccine in a bid to lure Russian tourists.  Source:  Bangkok Post 
  • NESDC unveiled its 2021 GDP projection for the Thai economy based on 3 scenarios: 0.7 percent, 1 percent and 1.2 percent growth.  If the lockdown remains in place until Q4 2021, the economy would expand by 0.7 percent.  If export maintains its growth momentum, and private investment and government expenditure continue to rise, the economy could grow 1 percent.  To achieve 1.2 percent growth, the government needs to contain Covid-19 infections and relax the lockdown by Q3 2021.  NESDC projected that exports could grow by 16.3 percent this year, up from 10.3 percent growth in May’s forecast, with private investment by 4.7 percent.   Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Tycoon Dhanin Cheravanont, head of the conglomerate CP Group, urged the government to speed up its coronavirus recovery effort in 4 areas, namely (1) launch more COVID-19 relief measures to help those affected by COVID; (2) inoculate everyone in the country and make available different brands of vaccine; (3) improve public access to  telemedicine and 4) act now to lure international tourists ahead of the neighbouring countries.  Dhanin dismissed the rumour that his company is involved in the government’s effort import Sinovac vaccine, noting that although his cousin holds 15 percent of the company that produces Sinovac vaccine China, that person has no authority to decide on any requests from Thailand to buy the vaccines because vaccine procurement is a G2G process.  Sources:  Bangkok Post  Naew Na
  • The residential market is unlikely to recover to pre-COVID levels until 2025 as the market contraction has been revised to 25-32 percent from 1.5-11 percent, driven largely by the battered economy and housing demand.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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