COVID Countdown: Gov’t Issues Health Guidelines for NYE Events

A New Year countdown event in Khon Kaen province, Dec. 31, 2018.

BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Thailand’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Monday approved the holding of New Year mega countdown events as long as health safety standards are implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

National Security Council Secretary General Natthapon Nakpanich, who is also director of the CCSA, said that organizers must implement public health measures against COVID-19, including face covering requirements, social distancing and frequent hand washing.

The CCSA’s decision to allow mega countdown events came at a time when Thailand continually discovers new COVID-19 cases, most of them Thai returnees from Myanmar’s Tachilek township.

Read: 38 People Infected So Far In Connection With Myanmar Returnees

Meanwhile, Natthapon said the CCSA will be holding another meeting with the Ministry of Public Health in early January to discuss the new COVID-19 testing timeframe such as testing on the first, 10th and 14th day of the quarantine period to get a grip for more accuracy of the test.

The CCSA director also said the CCSA panel will meet with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss measures to relax restrictions on foreigners entering the country, including visa arrangements, though public health safety will remain a primary concern.

Last week the CCSA reported five cases involving illegal returnees plus one locally-transmitted case.

These returnees who tested positive for COVID-19 were Thais who visited Tachilek and returned to Thailand by sneaking through natural borders to avoid quarantine.

However, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul allayed fears of a second wave of infections.

“These illegal entries of the Thai returnees will be facing the Thai law after their medical treatment. There is no need for a lockdown because health authorities are able to control and stem the spread of the virus,” Anutin said.

Cumulative infections in Thailand to date are 4,107, with 3,868 recoveries and 179 others are being treated in hospitals. The death toll stands at 60.