Advance Blog

May 5, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 5 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)
2,11274,9001,042/ 34344,360 (at 59.23%)46,0371,150,564 (+44,493) (= 1.738 %  of the population)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
2,017 [1,955 (get tested in hospital) + 152 (active case finding)]5 (in SQ)30,222 [8,558 in field hospital]15,309 (+789)318 (+15)22,794422,511  (+29,965) (=0.638 % of the population)
  • So far, there have been three emerging clusters in highly populated inner Bangkok districts:
    • Khlong Toei remains the main focus of the government and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
      • In an investigation, the CCSA has found that ‘Patient 0’ in Khlong Toei got the infection from the former cluster in Thong Lor.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Smaller communities within Rama IV-Wireless Road area is of concern as until 4 May there have been 1,586 confirmed cases (3.97 % positive rate out of 30,000 active case findings).
    • Communities along Northern Huai Khwang-Din Daeng districts as the two districts witnessed the highest record of COVID cases in Bangkok.
  • Bangkok Post cited a Public Health Minister spokesperson and reported that the government “had no plans to give free vaccines to expats due to very limited vaccine stocks, so Thai people would be the first to get it.”.—Bangkok Post
  • The CCSA deputy spokesperson informed press that the PM as the director of national CCSA has made himself the head of Greater Bangkok COVID Control Centre to coordinate the measures of 50 Bangkok districts.
  • The deputy spokesperson of the government came out to reveal that the PM has ordered the Ministry of Digital Economy to look after the fake news regarding the COVID vaccines and gave a green light to prosecute anyone who aims to create confusion and turmoil in the society.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The Secretary-general of the Thai FDA (Food and Drug Administration) dismissed the news that the FDA has approved the use of Moderna vaccine in Thailand. The FDA is now on the process of approving and expect to finalise within May.—Matichon
    • So far, the FDA has approved three vaccines [AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson]. And the two other vaccines from Bharat Biotech and Sputnik V are under the process of submitting documents.—Thai FDA Official Twitter
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson came out to warn people who are planning to take ‘vaccine tour’ to get the Pfizer inoculation in the United States that they are facing a high risk of being rejected to enter the US as some state may impose a bar against the ‘vaccine tourists’.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Media started to pick up on private vaccine tour to the US and Serbia.—PPTV
  • The Thai Anti-Fake News Centre came out to point out that a cutting edge medical facility MedPark opens for registration to get Moderna Vaccine is a fake news.—Manager Online

Politics

  • It is another big moment for the Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat as the Constitutional Court is going to make its verdict on whether the minister jail terms in Australia for drug smuggling would render him nullified from minister and MP status. The court is scheduled to read the verdict from 3.00pm.–Matichon
    • The Minister said he will respect and abide by the ruling regardless of the verdict. If the verdict is positive for him, he will proceed with his political career. But if the verdict turn out to be negative for him, he will return to doing business. He will designate his lawyer to be present at the court on his behalf.—Krungthep Turakij
    • An Opposition main figure Sereepisuth Temeeyaves who filed the case to the Court came out to reveal the minister’s testament to a committee Sereepisuth led. The testament said Thammanat admitted that he was jailed in Australia for covering-up, not for drug smuggling. But as the head of the House committee Sereepisuth pointed out that Thammanat is not eligible for the ministerial position.—Krungthep Turakij
    • For a more complete saga of the minister and his famous quote “It was not heroin, it was flour” in English.—Sydney Morning Herald
    • Earlier, a former Constitutional Court judge came out to say that the minister jail terms aboard had nothing to do with Thai judiciary system.—The Standard
  • Last night, ousted and self-exiled former PM Thaksin shook the political landscape using Club House application:
    • Thaksin said despite government denial, the American Pfizer vaccine has entered Thailand under Emergency Usage schemes and only a few will have access to the vaccine.–Matichon
      • FDA came out to dismiss the claim, saying that the FDA found no record of the imports after checking with the custom and Pfizer company.—Khao Sod
    • Thaksin also grilled Deputy PM Wissanu by saying he is feeling sorry the government legal pundit and that he apologised for bringing Wissanu into politics. Thaksin said Wissanu has been “very nasty” in manipulating the law.–Matichon
  • Three main figures of the student-led protests who have been detained in jail before trial on Royal defamation charges have pledged not to touch upon the monarchy issue if their application for temporary release on bail are approved by the Court of Appeal on 6 May.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The same vow was made by two other main figures (Somyot and Jatupat ‘Pai’) who got their bail approved earlier on.—Thai Post
  • Starting as an internet meme driven by vendetta against the elites, ‘Let’s Move Aboard’ Facebook Group (as of 5 May’s morning 760,000 members) is now under the government watchful eyes. The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry has announced that its working panel is keeping an eye on any content violating the laws on sedition and lese majeste. The MDES Minister said that “most of the content generally provides useful information about studying and living abroad, which is a good thing and should be encouraged. But, several posts, while offering tips, were deemed to have a political agenda, with a perceived intent to cause divisions and offend the royal institution.”—Bangkok Post, The Nation, Prachachat Turakij
  • A main ruling Palang Pracharat Party MP and the head of Lower House Affairs Committee called for the House Speaker to defer the Parliamentary session scheduled for the end of May as there is the third surge of the pandemic.—Krungthep Turakij

Economic:

  • Chayotid Kridakon, the former head of JP Morgan Securities (Thailand), is currently an advisor to DPM Supattanapong, the government’s chief economic policy director.  Chayotid’s taskforce is crafting new package of incentives to attract long-term, high-net-worth retirees to Thailand since it is unlikely to welcome back 40 million tourists anytime soon.  New categories of visas will be offered in the proposed package, as will new incentives involving relaxation on the rules on foreign ownership of property. Foreign visa regulations relaxation will also be addressed, with the main opposition likely to be coming from the Immigration Department under the politically powerful Interior Ministry.  Slated for announcement in June, the new visa package is part of the “Regulatory Guillotine” program initiated by former DPM Somkid Jatusripak who resigned in July last year. The guillotine was picked up again by his replacement, DPM Supattanapong.  Chayotid’s push for deregulation is in part to improve Thailand’ Ease of Doing Business ranking.   Source: Asia Times
  • Thailand remains the world’s number 1 exporter of Durian, boosted by FTAs, according to Ministry of Commerce.  Most remarkable is Thailand’s Durian export in Q1 of 2021 to China, which surged by 14 percent (valued at 186 million USD) due to the ASEAN-China FTA.  To date China is the top import market, constituting 88 percent of Thai Durian export.  Overall, Thailand’s Durian export to China in 2020 expanded by a whopping 79,300 percent compared to year 2003, when the FTA was enforced.  The implementation of RCEP is further envisaged to alllow Thai Durian to tap into the South Korean market.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij
  • Thailand’s rice export nosedived by 23 percent YoY in Q1 of 2021 to 1.13 million tonnes due to its high price compared to Pakistan and Cambodia.  The high price is attributable  to the strong Baht, higher freight costs and lower domestic supply as a result of the drought.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij
  • In the report Time to Immunity in Asia, Michael Spencer, the Chief Economist for Asia-Pacific at Deutsche Bank, forecasted that Thailand could reach herd immunity (ie: 70 percent of the population developing immunity), by the end of this year if the government speeds up the vaccination rollout by three times the current rate, or 190,000 shots per day.   At the current rate, where only 50 percent of the population is expected to be vaccinated by year-end, Thailand will achieve herd immunity in 2 years.  If local production of AstraZeneca vaccines begin as planned in June, Thailand’s vaccination rate could pick up and even surpass its regional peers.  Thailand has more incentives than other countries because of its reliance on tourism.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • The Bank of Thailand recently conducted a survey on 188 hotels, of which 30 are Alternative State Quarantine, from 12-26 April.  Results show that 47 percent of them have liquidity to sustain their business only for 3 months.  Some 80 percent of the respondents noted that the third wave of COVID-19 is worse than the second wave, with 13 percent temporarily ceasing operations.  Average occupancy rate for hotels nationwide in May 2021 is expected at 9 percent.  Employment in this sector is at 54 percent compared to pre-COVID period.  Source:  Thansettakij
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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