Armed Forces Chief Urges Thais to Observe Social Distancing

Bangkok's Pathumwan Intersection, usually a hotspot of heavy traffic, is nearly empty on March 26, 2020, as many Thais stay home and avoid commuting.

BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Chief of Defence Forces of the Royal Thai Armed Forces Gen. Pornpipat Benyasri on Thursday issued a stern warning to all Thai people, appealing to them to stay home and observe strict social distancing or risk facing a full lockdown of the country.

The warning came as Thailand entered into the first day of the state of emergency imposed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Meanwhile, an estimated 357 check-points have been set up throughout Thailand to discourage people from non-essential travel.

Pornpipat, who had been assigned by Prayut to be in charge of law enforcement and security under the emergency decree, warned that authorities are serious in imposing fines on violators.

“I am appealing to all government agencies and business establishments to introduce more online communicating to minimize the number of personnel and employees having to commute to work,” said Pornpipat.

“The next few days will be very crucial in the fight against the COVID-19,” said the commander. “And only strict compliance with the directives to stay at home and to avoid non-essential travel can help stop the spread of this virus.”

“We don’t need the curfew or a national lockdown at this stage, but if the emergency decree imposed is not effective, then everyone in the country will have to suffer the consequences of a curfew or lockdown,” Pornpipat warned.

On Thursday, Thailand reported another 111 cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the total number in the country to 1,045.