Advance Blog

May 20, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 20 May 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)
2,636 (671 from prisons)119,5851,213 / 40576,63688,0861,647,871 (+62,098) (= 2.489 % of the population)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccinations2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
1,907 [1,385 (get tested in hospital) + 522 (active case finding)]58 (in SQ)42,246 (23,512 in field hospitals)30,535 (+1,001)609 (+25)2,540,116 doses892,245 (+32,373) (=1.348 % of the population)
  • 54 out of 58 confirmed cases from aboard are from Cambodia. All of the people have the occupation of ‘online administration officer’ (of online casino websites).—CCSA
  • The PM posted on his FB Page saying workers who have self-supported social security will be eligible to get the inoculation from June. The PM said the workers under the scheme are mainly in service sectors and should get the vaccination in order to revitalise the economy in the sectors.—Thai Rath

Politics

  • The conflict reemerged between the PM and ruling Bhumjaithai Party over the public health handles of the PM as BJT spokesperson came out to grill the PM as being too self-centric and being the obstacles to the access to vaccines. The PM earlier slashed BJT leader and Public Health Minister’s plan to introduce ‘walk-in jab’ scheme.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The spokesperson gave an interview clarifying that he did not mean to grill the PM being the obstacle, rather the CCSA handles under the PM directions. BJT spokesperson said that he was warned by the senior people in the party on the outspoken comments.—Inside Thailand
    • This morning the government spokesperson announced that the PM would like to rejig the term of the scheme from ‘walk-in’ to ‘on-site registration’ for fear there is not sufficient vaccines. An Army reporter, viewed this as a compromise between the PM and Bhumjaithai Party.—Wassana Nanuam
  • The Digital Economy Minister said he is confident that the police can bring Paris-based monarchy critic academia Somsak Jaemtirasakul to be prosecuted in the Kingdom on charges related to royal defamation and Computer Crime Act. The Minister said he is seeking to have the asylum-seeker in France back in Thailand via extradition on his social media posts on the health of the monarch in relation to the pandemic.—Thai Rath
  • Ousted and self-exiled former PM Yingluck Shinawatra posted on her social media commemorating the bloody crack-down of Shinawatra-supporter Red Shirt protestors on 19 May. The former exiled PM communicated to her supporter and wished the crackdown is the last.—Thai Rath

Australia

  • The Chief of Narcotics Suppression Bureau said that they found out the people who exported methamphetamine to Australia is of Thai nationals who got the narcotics from neighbouring country in the North and hid it in electrical appliances, before hiring a shipping company to ship them to Australia.—ThaiPBS

Economic:

  • Employees insured under Section 33 of the Social Security Act will be given priority in the Covid-19 vaccination drive.  The target is some 8-10 million Section 33 workers, with special emphasis on those in the manufacturing and services sectors.  The Labour Ministry, Finance Ministry and other private partners will kick start the Covid-19 vaccination program for these workers from next month.  Next in line to receive the vaccine will be people living in the 9 economic provinces considered important economic areas.  Source:  Bangkok Post Krungthep Turakij
  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) has reduced its 2021 GDP growth forecast to 0.5-2 percent as the prolonged impacts of the third COVID-19 outbreak is anticipated to subdue domestic consumption in Q2 and Q3.  The reopening of Phuket to international tourists in July this year and brighter export prospect are not enough to ramp up GDP growth.
  • JSCCIB identified COVID-19 vaccine distribution and efficient public communication as the solutions to spurring economic growth later this year.  Specifically, the vaccines should be administered to tourist destinations to enable border reopening in Q4 of 2021.  To boost domestic consumption, JSCCIB suggests raising government subsidy under the co-payment scheme Khon La Kreung from 3,000 Baht to 6,000 Baht, as well as move up the implementation date of its latest phase to June instead of July.
  • JSCCIB and Thai Bankers’ Association support the government’s plan to borrow an additional 700 billion Baht to combat COVID-19.  TBA noted that it may push up Thailand’s public debt level, but that the ceiling can be amended as is commonly practised by other countries.  Source:  Bangkok Post   Naew Na  Thai Post
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) affirmed that Phuket will reopen to inoculated tourists through the sandbox model on 1 July following its virtual meeting with 50-60 hotels represented by the Thai Hotels Association.  To build up tourists’ confidence, operators will launch the ‘City Marketing’ plan, which will highlight the high level of safety in Phuket and other sandbox areas as segregated from other parts of Thailand.  To this end, TAT has set sight on attracting 129,000 international tourists in Q3 of this year through the campaign ‘Countdown to Reopen Phuket’. 
  • This is at odds with the Association of Thai travel Agents (ATTA)’s dismissal of Phuket’s July reopening, reasoning that the government does not appear to have control over COVID-19 outbreak yet.  ATTA added that in the 1 year since the pandemic outbreak, almost 100 percent of the operators in the tourism value chain have suspended their operations, with at least 10 percent permanently ceasing operations.  More businesses are anticipated to divest; the problem aggravated by their inaccessibility to the government’s soft loan.  ATTA suggested the government allocate parts of the 700 billion Baht loan as soft loans for tourism sector.  Source:  Bangkok Post  Matichon newspaper, 20 May 2021  Krungthep Turakij

CPTPP

  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) expressed full support for Thailand to join the negotiations for CPTPP accession following a meeting among its members.  The JSCCIB will compile its studies that address various concerns on Thailand’s accession and submit it to the International Economic Affairs Committee, headed by Foreign Affairs Ministry for their consideration.  Source:  Thansettakij

Others

  • Some 90 percent of the creditors have approved of Thai Airways’ restructuring plan, which must be submitted to the Central Bankruptcy Court on 28 May.  Appointed as its administrators are 5 people including acting Thai Airway’s CEO Chansin Treenuchagron and its former CEO Piyasvasti Amranand.  Source:  Bangkok Post  Krungthep Turakij
  • Commerce minister Jurin Laksanawisit has instructed its Intellectual Property Department to work with government and private agencies to suppress intellectual property violations and upgrade existing laws as the government aims to remove Thailand from the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) watch list (WL) as soon as possible.  Source: Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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