Advance Blog

January 29, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 29 January 2021

News

·  Updates related to COVID-19:

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases from clusters
80217,0236311,396 (at 66.94%)12,786
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
781 [ 89 (get tested in hospital) + 692 (active case finding)] 19 (in SQ) + 2 (cross border from Malaysia and Myanmar)5,551745 [735 reported by BMA yesterday +  10 by CCSA today]76 (+0)7,664
  • The CCSA spokesperson said that the CCSA committee meeting has approved the lockdown easing measures as proposed by a CCSA Public Health subcommittee. The content of the easing of measures is as followed:
Category/ new restrictionsEducational InstitutionsEntertainment complex (Pubs, clubs, bars)Gym, fitness and boxing ringsMassage and soapy parloursSeminar, meetings and exhibitionsMarkets, flea marketsDine-in and department stores hoursInter-provincial travels
Maximum and strict controlXXXXXOUntil 9.00 pm (No alcohol when dine-in)X
Maximum controlO (Alternating On-site & On-air)XO (Sports competition allowed with no audience)X (Thai massage allowed)O The use of ‘Thai Chana’ platform or ‘More Chana’ application, no more than 100 participants and no alcohol served on site.OUntil 11.oo pm (No alcohol when dine-in)X
ControlOO  (Alcohol served until 11.00 pm)O (Sports competition allowed with limited numbers of audience)OO (no more than 300 participants)OOThai people could travel, tracking required from Maximum control provinces
High surveillanceOO  (Alcohol served until 12.00 am)OOOOOThai people could travel, tracking required from Maximum control provinces
SurveillanceOOOOOOOThai people could travel, tracking required from Maximum control provinces
  • The CCSA has warned people of two potential new clusters in inner Bangkok:
  • On the case of the vocal DJ who held the birthday party at Banyan Tree Hotel, there have been 26 confirmed cases (+2) in relation to the cluster. There are also 113 high-risk and 53 low-risk people.
  • The other potential new cluster at Icon Siam Department Store has seen seven confirmed cases with 200 high-risk people.–Daily News
  • The National Vaccine Committee announced the vaccine priority guidelines based on a voluntary basis. The guideline outlined the strategy into three stages:
  • Inadequate vaccine stage to jab front line health officials, people with underlying diseases (chronic respiratory disease, cardiac disease, chronic kidney disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity), elder aged 60 and above, and COVID-control officials with the possibility to contact COVID patient.
  • More vaccine stage to inoculate other health officials, workers with high-risk contacts and workers with high-risk contacts to the international traveller.
  • Adequate vaccine stage to jab general population
  • The committee said that Thailand is considering the conditions and negotiating with COVAX vaccine scheme. On a bilateral vaccine procurement, the government has ordered 26 million doses from Astra Zeneca and has ordered 35 million more doses, including with 2 million doses from China.–Ministry of Public Health
  • The Chonburi governor signed an order to close down hotels and tourist attractions in the popular sea-side resort province from now until further notice.
  • In a bid to revitalise the tourism sector during the pandemic, the government has listed six golf courses in Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Nayok, Petchaburi and Lam Phun as the quarantine facilities.–Nation Thailand

Politics

  • The spokesperson of the subcommittee to consider amending the constitution announced their resolution for the Constitutional Drafting Assembly to be entirely elected. This is unexpected as the early government draft was to have 150 CDAs from an election and 50 from other appointments.–Than Settakij
  • Political parties are witnessing greater intra-party conflicts:
  • Democrat Party veteran figure in the northeast Witoon Nambutr submitted his letter of resignation from the party, citing partial treatment of the Party’s executives. The former Social Development and Human Security Minister said in his statement that the Democrat Party has given every attention to the Southern MPs, leaving the Northeastern members with no say. He is eyeing to sign up with a new party which has respect for him.–Thai Rath
  • Witoon gave an interview with a media that he will move to the second largest ruling Bhumjaithai Party.–Inside Thailand
  • After an MP from the Move Forward Party came out to announce that he will not sign up for the expected party proposal to amend criminal code Article 112 (royal defamation law), the other MP from Chonburi also came out to communicate the same message.–Manager
  • After the earlier report that Deputy PM and leader of Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) has called for party’s Bangkok MPs to support former Police Chief Chakthip as the party’s candidate for the upcoming BMA governor election. Deputy PM denied the reports and said the reporters should wait for the party executive’s meeting. Taya Teepsuwan, partner to the Education Minister from PPRP, also showed strong interest in running for the gubernatorial election under PPRP banner, causing a clash between the two potential candidates.–Thai Rath
  • In the upcoming censure debate, the Opposition turned down the Coalition whip and the House Speaker request to omit the issues related to the monarchy out of the motion. The Opposition is going to grill ten ministers including the PM in the no-confident debate in mid-February. The PM will be bombarded for many issues, including undermining the healthy relations between the monarch and the people. The Coalition whip also asked the Opposition to reduce the days of the debate from six to four days, citing the pandemic preventive reasons.–Thai Rath
  • Last night, police have arrested two of three suspects wanted for allegedly throwing a “ping pong bomb” that injured four people on January 17. The two were alledged of throwing a low-pressure bomb at police who were monitoring a rally of pro-democracy protesters in front of Chamchuri Square building in Bangkok’s Pathumwan district. Two police officers, a member of the press and one citizen were injured in the resulting explosion.–Nation Thailand
  • There were more legal cases prosecuted against the student-led protestors. The police on Thursday requested arrest warrants for 10 pro-democracy protest leaders who have been charged with lese-majeste and sedition on Thursday. They are also charging three high school students for allegedly violating the state of emergency decree.–Thai Enquirer

Economic:

Economic Forecasts

  • Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office has slashed Thailand’s 2021 GDP growth forecast from 4.5 to 2.8 percent because of lower foreign tourist arrival projection, which will offset the recovery in export of 6.2 percent.  Foreign arrival forecast is revised down to 5 million from 8 million, with revenue set to fall to 260 billion from 400 billion Baht.  For 2020, FPO foresees that GDP will shrink less than anticipated, by -6.5 percent from its earlier forecast of -7.7 percent due to sound COVID-19 containment and the government’s stimulus packages.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • While Standard Chartered expects GDP to grow by 3.1 percent in 2021, it thinks growth will dip in 2022 to 2.5 percent due to several risks.  Among them is government’s smaller stimulus package, which this year is reduced to 200 billion Baht compared to last year’s 400 billion Baht.  The government may also have limited fiscal space as the debt to GDP ratio nears the 60 percent ceiling.  The central bank also has limited monetary space because interest is at a record low of 0.5 percent.  Tourism will remain lacklustre as it will take 3-5 years for tourist arrivals to reach pre-COVID19 level of 40 million.  Lagging investment and political instability could also impede growth.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij Bangkok Post
  • TMB Bank forecasts that the new wave of COVID-19 in Q1 of 2021 is set to slash the revenues of SMEs in services and tourism sector nationwide by 27 billion Baht, affecting 130,000 SME operators and the employment of 610,00 people.  SMEs in Chonburi province are hit the hardest with their revenue set to drop by 6.2 billion Baht, followed by Bangkok with 5 billion Baht of lost revenue and Samut Prakarn with 1.4 billion Baht lost. 
  • TDRI said the 2020 GDP will experience a contraction of -7 to -8 percent and will rebound in 2021 with a 2-3 percent growth.  It expects the current pandemic outbreak will be brought under control in 4-6 months and economy will return to pre-COVID level in 2-3 years.
  • Siam Commercial Bank has revised down GDP growth for 2020 to be 2.2 percent from 3.8 percent due to slow recovery in tourism.  This is attributable to the delay in the herd immunity of the population in developing countries in Asia to Q4 of 2021, who are coincidentally Thailand’s main tourists.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij

Government Stimulus Packages

  • Online registration for ‘Rao Chana’ cash-handout totalling 7,000 Baht opens today until 12 February to those who are not state welfare cardholders and have no Pao Tang e-wallet app.  State welfare cardholders need not register as they will automatically receive the cash transfer on 5 February.  The government will screen Pao Tung e-wallet app users and if they are proven to be eligible, they will receive the cash transfer on 18 February.
  • The government’s Kon La Krueng co-payment subsidy scheme reported a total of 15 million registrants, with 14.3 million rights already used which resulted in spending worth 73.5 billion Baht.  Registrants are urged to use the government subsidy by 7 February or their rights will be revoked.  Source:  Thai Rath

Tourism

  • Outbound operators hope to restart packages catered to a small groups of tourists at the end of 2021, while presenting premium domestic packages as options for those with less confidence in the tourism industry.  Thai Travel Agents Association forecast that outbound tourism might begin at the end of this year for independent tourists of no more than 10 people, with this trend lasting for a couple of years.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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