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Update January, 2020


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Update by Thanaphpon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

Air quality improves nationwide except for North

BANGKOK (NNT) - PM 2.5 problems in many areas have improved. This morning, the air quality in most regions of the country was at a good level except in the northern region where the PM 2.5 level is still above the standard level especially in Lampang and Phrae.

According to the Air4thai website of the Pollution Control Department at 10 a.m., the PM 2.5 levels in the northern provinces of Lampang, Lamphun, Nan, Phrae, Phayao and Tak were higher than the standard level except for Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son where the air quality is from a moderate to very good level.

The highest PM 2.5 level of 134 micrograms per cubic meter was measured in Ban Dong sub district, Mae Mo district. In Phrabat sub district, MueangLampang district, the PM 2.5 level was measured at 110 micrograms per cubic meter and in Na Chaksub district, Mueang Phrae district, the PM 2.5 level was measured at 104 micrograms per cubic meter.

In northeastern, central and eastern Thailand including Bangkok and its vicinity, the air quality is from a moderate to very good level due to the influence of the fluctuating weather.

In Bangkok, today, the NBT news team surveyed the Sukhumvit area where the air quality has improved. According to the Air Visual application, the air quality ranges from good to a moderate level.

On Ekamai road in Bangkok, district office personnel, police from Thong Lo Police Station and officials from related agencies have set up a checkpoint to detect trucks that are not covered with canvas to prevent and lessen the dust and pollution problem.

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Thailand can still control the Coronavirus infection situation

BANGKOK (NNT) - Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says that Thailand can still control the coronavirus infection situation. He also urged the public not to believe in misinformation on the spread of this disease shared in the social media, as they might get into a panic unnecessarily.

Speaking on 26th January 2020 after a workshop on the prevention and control of the spread of the coronavirus from China, Mr. Anutin confirmed that so far eight cases of the coronavirus have been found in Thailand.

These patients were infected with the disease while abroad. Among them, five have already returned home after being treated, while three are being treated in hospitals, supervised by the Ministry of Public Health.

Mr. Anutin said that a team of medical experts had been invited to monitor the situation. If stringent measures are needed, the Ministry of Public Health is ready to take immediate action, as it gives top priority to the good health of the people.

He said that whether the situation becomes more severe or not depends on the screening system for disease control. Thailand’s surveillance and screening system are now 100 percent effective, and the Ministry of Public Health is confident about its ability to handle the situation. Therefore, people should not panic.

Infrared thermo scan units have been set up at Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Krabi international airports for round-the-clock screening of all passengers. The Department of Disease Control has also handed out a "Health Beware Card” for travelers arriving in Thailand. Visitors traveling from abroad may contact the authorities, if they become sick and are afraid of being infected with the disease.

Mr. Anutin said that he had assigned the Ministry of Public Health, through the Department of Disease Control, to hold press briefings to give updated information on the disease, so that the public would have a better understanding of the situation.

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Immigration checkpoints implement enhanced hygiene measures

 

BANGKOK (NNT) - Health screening measures are being implemented at immigration checkpoints across the country to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus into Thailand.

 

At Betong border crossing in Yala, officials are using handheld thermometers to screen out suspected persons, after confirmed cases were reported in Malaysia and Singapore. Meanwhile enhanced hygiene measures are being implemented at immigration checkpoints at all airports.

The hygiene measures will help protect officials at international airports who must be in contact with 60,000 passengers, while special screening protocols are in place for flights from Wuhan and Guangzhou, which will be assigned specific gates. All flights from Wuhan have however been cancelled as the Chinese city which is at the epicenter of the outbreak is in effective lockdown.

The Immigration Bureau 2 Chief Pol Maj Gen VeerapholCharoensiri, said today that enhanced hygiene measures will also help increase passengers’ confidence. Immigration checkpoints will be cleaned with disinfectant and alcohol spray every hour, especially in areas where officials and passengers interact. Immigration officials at all airports will be wearing masks and gloves to prevent the spread of the infection, as they must handle many passports and converse with passengers all the time.

Hand sanitizer bottles will be placed on passport control counters for passengers to use, while officials will increase their surveillance of coughing and sneezing passengers, who may be isolated from the crowd and referred to the airport’s health control team for investigation. The health of officials will also be monitored, and those showing symptoms will be sent to doctors immediately.

In Yala province, officials at Betong border crossing are conducting health screenings on tourists arriving at the Thailand-Malaysia border, after confirmed cases were reported in Malaysia and Singapore.

There is currently no confirmed case of novel coronavirus infection in Yala, however Betong district is considered to be at higher risk than the rest of the province as it welcomes many Malaysian-Chinese and Singaporean-Chinese tourists. The Thai authorities are now working with Malaysian authorities to help prevent the spread of the virus.

In SamutSongkhram, Amphawa district chief NatchawanTechasen has delivered sanitary masks to retailers at Amphawa floating market, in an attempt to reduce the chances of infection. The district has ordered accommodation and homestays to monitor the health of their guests, and notify related agencies should any guest exhibit suspicious symptoms.

Amphawa floating market is a tourism attraction popular among Chinese tourists, with about half of all visitors to the market coming from China.

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Phuket sets up coronavirus response center

PHUKET (NNT) - Phuket province has set up an emergency operations center, at the provincial public health office, to monitor and prevent an outbreak of novel coronavirus infections. The center began operations today.

The center was set up because Phuket is a popular tourist destination for international visitors. The center will be delivering briefings and updates, to members of the media and the general public, regarding the latest developments in the novel coronavirus situation, in order to raise confidence among villagers and tourists.

The Governor of Phuket, PakkapongTawipat, said the province has activated prevention measures against an outbreak since 5 January, asking the general public to verify online information before sharing it, and to refer to information from official sources to prevent unnecessary panic caused by misinformation.

The provincial public health office and local hospitals have deployed 33 healthcare officials, stationed at Phuket International Airport 24 hours a day, to screen arriving passengers. Any passengers found with a body temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher will be interviewed and sent to hospital.

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Recommendations to reduce the risk of Coronavirus infection

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, has made recommendations to help people protect themselves from the Novel Coronavirus 2019.

• Avoid traveling to Wuhan and other Chinese cities known to have been affected by the spread of coronavirus, announced by China;

• Avoid being in crowded places;

• Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or sneezing. If necessary, wear a face mask;

• Avoid entering animal markets and don’t touch or get close to animals, especially animals that are sick or dead;

• Keep your hands clean by washing them often with water and soap or alcohol gel. Within 14 days of returning from the risk area, if you have a fever with respiratory symptoms, such as a cough, sore throat, runny nose, or wheezing, you should seek medical attention, as well as notify the medical providers of your travel history to Wuhan, China.

Currently, there are no reports of human to human transmission and no reports of medical staff falling sick from this disease. The initial investigation has reported that most of the patients live in Wuhan.

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EIT now teaches how to make a DIY air particle counter

CHIANG MAI (NNT) - The Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT) has opened free workshops for those interested, and will be installing these devices in remote communities and schools in Chiang Mai.

This DIY air particle counter can measure PM 1.0, PM 2.5, and PM 10, as well as temperature and humidity. The device uses laser technology from scattered light inside the sensor to count the particles, which is a reliable industry standard.

Some 50 people participated in a workshop, held by the EIT, where they learnt about the materials, parts, assembly, software installation and data readings from the monitor.

The EIT President Thanes Weerasiri said this device only costs 1,500-2,000 baht to build, and produces air particle readings at an accuracy comparable to the devices used by the Pollution Control Department.

The EIT will be delivering 50 of these devices to the Yak Khao association, founded by educational institutes, government agencies, private firms and volunteers. The association will then install them in remote schools and communities in Chiang Mai province, in an attempt to help fight air pollution in the northern region.

 


Thailand ready to evacuate Thai nationals from outbreak zones: Thai FM

BANGKOK (TNA) – Thailand is ready to evacuate Thai nationals from virus-hit Chinese cities if Beijing gives the green light to start the repatriation, said Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

Permission from the Chinese authorities is needed before Thailand could commence evacuation, the minister said adding no country has been allowed to do so as Wuhan has been placed under lockdown in an attempt to contain the new coronavirus outbreak.

Every country should cooperate with China, the minister said. He believed that China would be able to put the outbreak under control and the lockdown will effectively contain the spread of the disease.

The same measure was once put in place to control the fatal severe respiratory syndrome (SARS) 17 years ago.

Thai embassies in China have contacted Thai nationals there to give them assistance while waiting for permission from China, he said.

Meanwhile, the foreign minister confirmed that Chinese tourists, who have been stranded in Thailand due to the lockdown would not be forced to return home. 

He said Thailand pledged to take good care of Chinese people as China also promised to take the best care of Thais. (TNA)

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Six more new Coronavirus cases reported in Thailand

BANGKOK (TNA) – Thai Public Health Ministry reports six more confirmed new coronavirus cases in the country, raising the total cases in Thailand to 14.

All of six new cases are visitors from China. Five of them are members of the same family, aged between 6-70 years from Wuhan, Hubei province. The other case was travelling in the same tour group.

Out of all 14 cases, detected in Thailand, five cases were fully recovered and discharged from hospital while nine others remain hospitalized and placed under close medical surveillance.

From Jan 3 -27, Thailand reported 137 cumulative suspected new coronavirus cases, including 29 cases, detected at the airport screening processes and 107 cases, who sought medical treatment themselves.

Out of all suspected cases, 55 cases returned home and most of them had seasonal flu. The remaining 81 cases have been placed under quarantine.


Strict Screening for Coronavirus Stepped up at Thai Airports

BANGKOK (TNA) – Thai Permanent Secretary for Public Health reiterated that only eight coronavirus cases from China were confirmed in Thailand while the Public Health Ministry is ready to deploy additional 5,000 personnel to screen tourists at international airports.

Permanent Secretary for Public Health, Dr. Sukhum Kanchanapimai told a press briefing on Monday about the new coronavirus situation in Thailand that the number of new coronavirus cases was confirmed at eight and they were infected with the disease in China.

Eight confirmed cases include seven Chinese tourists and a Thai national, having returned from Wuhan, he said.

Five of them were fully recovered and the conditions of the remaining three cases are improving, he added.

He denied rumours that some immigration police officers were contracted with the new coronavirus and said there was no death from the coronavirus in Thailand.

Thailand has also expanded the strict screening at airports to cover arrivals from Wuhan, Changchun and Guangzhou.

Thai authorities urge the public not to panic because Thailand has the surveillance mechanism, put in place. Additional 5,000 health personnel will be deployed to station at the disease control checkpoints at the airports to work around the clock. (TNA)

 


Tourism council voices concern over impact of Coronavirus outbreak

 

BANGKOK (TNA) - The ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak will severely hit Thai tourism industry if it is not contained within three months, the Tourism Council of Thailand says.

Visitors from China are the biggest source of Thailand’s tourism revenue last year, increasing 4.4 percent to 10.99 million, according to government data.  The virus outbreak has caused tour cancelations and suspensions for tour services causing an estimated loss of over THB10 billion.

Chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) ChairatTrairattancharatphon said the estimate was based on a dip of five million Chinese visitors.

If the outbreak persisted for over three months, its impact on Thailand’s tourism industry could be substantial, he said.

The TCT planned to hold discussions with tourism-related entities, both public and private, to assess the situation and brainstorm on measures to ease the negative impacts, he added.

ManopSaejia, head of a tour guide association of Chiang Mai, a popular destination of Chinese tourists, said he was concerned over the effectiveness of health quarantine system.

About 40 percent of Chinese tourists in Chiang Mai travelled in group tours while the rest was independent, he said.

These independent tourists could spread the deadly virus if strict quarantine measures were not in place, said Manop.

He called a similar public health measures carried out during the SARS outbreak in 2003 when all tourists went through health checks. 

Tourist arrivals in Thailand hit a record 39.8 million in 2019, rising of 7 percent from 2018.

With the coronavirus crisis, the country is unlikely reaching the government target of 41.8 million tourists in 2020. (TNA) 


PM: Govt ready to repatriate Thai citizens from Wuhan

BANGKOK (TNA) - Thailand is ready to repatriate over 60 Thai citizens from epidemic-stricken Wuhan city when Chinese authorities give a greenlight, says Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had updated the information of Thai nationals affected by coronavisrus outbreak in China and designated an assembly point for them to be repatriated, Prayut told reporters on Monday.

Aircrafts with medical staff and equipment are on stand-by for a mission to evacuate Thais China, according to the Royal Thai Air Force.

The premier also reassured the public of the repatriation plan that had been prepared for weeks.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry on Monday held a meeting to review plans to repatriate Thais affected by the lockdowns of many Chinese cities.

The Foreign Ministry has said there are 54 Thai students and approximately 10 workers in spa businesses in Wuhan city.

The death toll is over 80, the vast majority are in Wuhan, Hubei, the virus’ epicenter. 

Thai Public Health Ministry’s latest report says the total number of cases under investigation stands is at 84.

As public concerns soar, reports of suspected coronavirus cases have been detected in many provinces including Nakhon Sawan, Chiang Mai and Rayong.

 But the Ministry officials urged people not to panic, saying there were placed under quarantine pending results of lab tests. (TNA) 

 


THAI waives flight change fees for some Chinese cities due to coronavirus outbreak

NondKalinta, vice president of sales department at Thai Airways International (THAI) said the ticket change fee will be waived due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus in China, which has resulted in Wuhan and other cities at risk nearby being shut down by Chinese authorities.

Terms and conditions will apply for roundtrip tickets on the following routes to China: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Kunming, Chengdu, including on THAI Smile flights to Chongqing, Changsha and Zhengzhou. This is valid for passengers who were issued tickets on January 24 or before, with travel date between January 24 and February 29.

Tickets can be reissued or rescheduled by contacting THAI sales offices.

For more information, please call THAI contact center at Tel 0-2356-1111 (24 hours) or visit thaiairways.com website.


Chiang Mai international airport flights between Wuhan and Chiang Mai suspended

(NNT) Chief of the Chiang Mai provincial tourism and sports office ParisaPanprom said Chiang Mai international airport has suspended all flights between Wuhan and Chiang Mai from Jan 24 to Feb 4 to stem the coronavirus spread. The flights affected are Air China Limited's CA707 (Wuhan-Chiang Mai) 09.05-11.40 and CA708 (Chiang Mai-Wuhan) 12.50-16.55 which operate on Sunday, Tuesday and Friday. Other airlines are not affected.

To step up the preventive measures, the Public Health Ministry has set up a thermos-scanner at the airport to screen all Chinese tourists arriving from Guangzhou from Jan 25.

Meanwhile, an arrangement will be made for 120 Chinese tourists from Wuhan scheduled to return to China on Jan 26 to fly to nearby destinations such as Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing. All of them have been screened by the disease control checkpoint of Chiang Mai airport.


First Thai woman to identify Coronavirus

(NNT) In a wake of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, Thai government and public health related units have been working tirelessly to combat and contain the disease. The Ministry of Public Health is one of the organizations to have been praised by the public for its capable medical workforce and high-level of public health management.

Supaporn Wacharapluesadee, the Deputy Chief of the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases Health Science Centre, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, is an example of the Public Health Ministry’s personnel being admired by social media users for identifying the novel coronavirus in a visitor from China.

Twitter user @mooomeemha shared Supaporn’s story with her social media friends, saying that Supaporn was the first Thai to identify the coronavirus and to submit the data to the international genetic information system, ahead of China officially announcing the emergence of the infectious disease.


Health Minister confirms eight cases of the coronavirus found

 

(NNT) Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister AnutinCharnvirakulc confirmed that so far eight cases of the coronavirus have been found in Thailand.

These patients were infected with the disease from abroad. Among them, five have already returned home, while three are being treated in the hospitals, supervised by the Ministry of Public Health.

Infrared thermo scan units have been set up at Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Krabi international airports for round-the-clock screening of all passengers. The Department of Disease Control has also handed out a “Health Beware Card” for travelers arriving in Thailand.

Thailand’s surveillance and screening system are now 100 percent effective, and the Ministry of Public Health is confident about its ability to handle the situation.


New Coronavirus affects tourism, GDP

BANGKOK (TNA) -- The outbreak of the novel coronavirus will impact tourism and the gross domestic product of Thailand, according to the chairman of the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations.

 

FETCO chairman PaiboonNalinthrangkurn made the remark as the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index plunged by 45.77 points or nearly 3% midday, showing a worse decline than regional indexes.

Although China introduced many measures to cope, uncertainties remained and no one knew how long the situation would continue, he said.

“There were considerable sells this morning because the Thai economy depends highly on exports and tourism and Chinese tourists form the biggest group of visitors to Thailand,” MrPaiboon said.

According to him, Thailand welcomed 40 million visitors last year and their arrivals generated 11% of the GDP, compared with 7% of the GDP in 2014.

When tourism income dropped by 10%, the GDP would fall by more than 1%. This year’s GDP growth could be 2% instead of 3%, MrPaiboon said.

However, he said that the novel coronavirus would finally be controlled and its impacts on SET would be temporary. Impacts on SET lasted about one quarter during the times of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the FETCO chair said. (TNA)


Thai embassy contacts Thais in Wuhan

BANGKOK (TNA) -- The Thai embassy in Beijing is keeping in touch with Thai people in Wuhan and Hubei, according to the Foreign Ministry.

BusadeeSantipitaks, spokesperson of the ministry, said the ministry was aware of a call for help from Thai student PasnichaKrutdamrongchai in Wuhan and the Thai embassy already contacted her and asked other Thai students there to offer help. The embassy also advised her on food sources while keeping channels to contact Thai people in Wuhan and Hubei, she said.
MsPasnichaKrutdamrongchai, a student at Wuhan University, wrote in her Facebook post that most Thai students in the city in central China where a new coronavirus originated, were unable to stockpile food because they were given short notice of the city’s shutdown.

The Thai student has appealed to the Thai government to help evacuate her and her compatriots, claiming they are running out of food.
MsBusadee also said that Wuhan was 1,200 kilometers away from Beijing and the Chinese government sealed off Wuhan to contain the novel coronavirus.

Earlier Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai told the Thai News Agency that 54 Thai students and 10 Thai workers in Wuhan were safe and did not want any evacuation. However, they might have problems with their living conditions, especially food supplies, if the Wuhan closure was prolonged, he said.
“An evacuation plan will depend on situations. When a city is closed, it creates uneasiness. There may be impacts on (people’s) minds and living conditions,” the minister said.
He said the Chinese government had first-hand experiences in handling the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and was likely to take efficient action. Meanwhile, Chinese people were cooperating with the government, the minister said. (TNA)


Tourism Minister meets tourism sector on virus prevention measures

BANGKOK (TNA) -- The Tourism and Sports Minister PhiphatRatchakitprakarn today discussed the impacts of the novel coronavirus on tourism with concerned operators.
The Minister met representatives of tourism-related operators including hoteliers, tour guides and tour companies.

They were informed that they must watch closely customers from risk areas and especially the tourists who had visited China in the past 14 days. Ill customers must be sent to hospitals right away, MrPhiphat said.

According to him, most of tourists from Wuhan city already left the country. The novel coronavirus outbreak would cut the number of Chinese visitors from the Chinese New Year to April by about 1.89 million, or 70% of all Chinese visitors.

Their absence would mean the country would lose its tourism-related income by about 94 billion baht, the minister said. He hoped that Indian and ASEAN visitors could help alleviate the situation.

He proposed the government support the liquidity and marketing campaigns of affected tour operators. The proposal would reach the cabinet on Jan 31, MrPhiphat said. (TNA)


National Coronavirus Surveillance Center Planned

NONTHABURI (TNA) -- Authorities from the Public Health Ministry, the Transport Ministry and the Tourism and Sports Ministry worked out a plan to cope with the novel coronavirus and it includes a national surveillance mechanism.

Deputy Prime Minister/Public Health Minister AnutinCharnvirakul said the three ministries would propose their plan to the cabinet on Jan 28.

He assured that Thailand could control the disease and it would not become a serious situation.

“Concerned ministries have coordinated their work verbally. Today a meeting was convened to introduce national surveillance for the most efficient prevention,” MrAnutin said.
According to him, a national committee will be formed and special authority will be necessary to handle situations related to the novel coronavirus.

MrAnutin quoted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as ordering authorities to share as much information related to the virus as possible to prevent public panic due to considerable information from unofficial sources.

So far, there have been eight pneumonia patients. Seven of them are Chinese and the other is a Thai person who visited Wuhan city of China. Five of them recovered and returned home and the rest three were being treated in negative pressure rooms at hospitals. All of them were in good conditions, MrAnutin said.
He advised people eat newly cooked food, use serving spoon, often wash hands and refrain from contacting a patient and visiting congested areas. (TNA)


Airport Rail Link sprays alcohol against coronavirus at railway stations

BANGKOK (NNT) - Airport Rail Link operators have taken to spraying alcohol around railway stations to prevent a possible spread of the coronavirus and raise the confidence of healthy passengers. Chinese tourists to Chiang Mai province have bought up many health masks to prevent the new virus during Chinese New Year festival.

Airport Rail Link staff spray alcohol inside the passenger carrihave ages before and after service daily. Hand rails, seats and control rooms, ticket sales booths, toilets and station platforms are all sprayed with alcohol. Airport Rail Link personnel also have their health checked before service and bottles of hand-washing alcohol have been provided at every railway station.

In addition, health masks are provided for passengers at ticket sales booths to prevent a possible spread of the coronavirus and to raise the confidence in safety of the passengers.

Meanwhile, Chinese tourists to Chiang Mai have bought up many health masks to use against the coronavirus during the Chinese New Year festival. Such health masks have sold out to Chinese at most stores, and only masks against PM 2.5 dust are still available for Thais to buy. Drugstore owners and Chiang Mai people generally hope the situation in Wuhan where the outbreak of coronavirus was first reported will quickly return to normal.


Strict virus screenings at airports nationwide

BANGKOK (NNT) - Measures to prevent the corona virus, are being followed at airports nationwide, especially the screening measure using Thermo-scanning machines to measure the body temperature of Chinese tourists visiting from all cities.

Mr Rewat Areerop, Assistant Secretary to the Deputy Minister of Public Health, gave a media conference on the performance of the operation to monitor the presence of the corona virus from China as people are starting to panic after a report on the detection of infected patients in Phuket. He confirmed that no corona virus-infected patient has been found in the Phuket area. Currently, there are only four cases of suspected coronavirus patients under observation in Phuket. Two of them are at Wachira Phuket Hospital, one of them is at Thalang Hospital and another one is Patong Hospital. The four patients have gradually recovered.

Thirty-six Thermo-scanning machines will be used to carry out thermal screening on 8,000 incoming passengers from China on more than 40 flights to Phuket.

At Don Mueang Airport, Police Lieutenant General Satawat Hiranboorana, Assistant Commission-General of the Royal Thai Police, visited Don Mueang Airport’s International Passenger Terminal (Building 1), Floor 3, Gate 1, and provided moral support to officers who are performing their duty to take care of people. Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited requires all flights to land at a specific location. The disease control checkpoint has installed the Thermo-scanning machines to measure the body temperature of passengers according to public health procedures before they show themselves at the immigration checkpoint.

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Public Health Ministry continues to scan people for coronavirus

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Disease Control Department has continued to act on the present health alert and scan people for coronavirus, especially those from risky areas of China.

Dr ThanarakPhaliphat, a deputy director general of the Disease Control Department, said today the agency has continued to scan airline passengers from all risky areas of China, even though flights from Wuhan to Thailand have been suspended. Tourists coming from the risky areas of China including Guangzhou city in Guangdong province where the number of patients is reported to be second only to Wuhan; they are to be scanned for coronavirus at Suvarnabhumi airport, Don Mueang airport, Phuket airport, Chiang Mai airport and Chiang Rai airport.

No human-to-human infection has been reported in Thailand but the Ministry of Public Health has continued to act on the alert and pursue scanning measures. Though the World Health Organization hasn’t declared a travel ban on any country due to a coronavirus outbreak,Thais going overseas are advised to follow the situation closely and find out if it could possibly occur in the countries of their destination, and consider postponing any unnecessary flights.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister AnutinCharnvirakul has held a meeting with officials of the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and relevant agencies to discuss prevention and control measures against a coronavirus spread in Thailand which will be submitted to the cabinet on Tuesday.

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New virus infection may be through the eyes

BANGKOK(NNT) - The number of persons infected with coronavirus has increased with fears that it might be contracted through the eyes.

Dr Wang Guangfa of China has been infected with coronavirus because he was not wearing eyeglasses when he was close to a patient. Prof Paul Kellam, a viral specialist from Imperial College London, confirmed infection might occur through the eyes if exposed to a patient’s coughing or sneezing. Medical personnel would now have eye protection apart from nose and mouth protection in the face of a viral outbreak.

Chinese authorities have taken measures to quarantine persons who have been found on public transport systems to be infected or suspected of being so, with the new virus. Such patients would immediately be quarantined from other passengers and sent to the nearest hospital for closer observation.

Meanwhile, public transport stations need to have a proper air ventilation system and have an antiseptic solution available for immediate spraying onto the spot where a patient has been found; they must immediately be reported to the authorities. The measures have been stepped up to the extent that the body temperature of all passengers especially those from Wuhan city are being scanned.

The new virus has so far caused 41 fatalities, 39 of which were found in Hubei province in central China which is located near Wuhan city and the two others in Hebei in northern China and Heilongjiang in northeastern China. A total of 1,322 patients has been confirmed. Of that number, 237 patients were reported to be comatose. Over 30 provinces throughout China are reportedly affected.

Five patients have been reported in Hong Kong, three in Taiwan and two in Macao. In other countries, five patients were reported, three of whom have fully recovered, in Thailand, three patients were reported, one of whom has fully recovered, in Japan, three were reported in France, three in Singapore, two in South Korea, two in the United States, two in Vietnam, one in Nepal, one in Australia and, in a latest report, three in Malaysia.

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Chiang Mai Zoo holds underwater Lion Dance to celebrate Chinese New Year

Divers in lion dance outfits performed the auspicious inside a large fish tank at Chiang Mai Zoo aquarium.  

The show is scheduled for two rounds a day from Friday to Wednesday. 

Lion dance is an auspicious performance symbolizing good fortune and happiness. At NongNooch Pattaya Botanical Garden in Chon Buri province, meanwhile, four elephants aged 4-7 joined a festive parade. 

With colorful lion's heads on top of the heads, the jumbos were accompanied by a group of dances in Chinese angel costumes. (TNA) 

 

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NSC monitors US-Iran tensions

BANGKOK (NNT) - The National Security Council (NSC) is closely monitoring conflicts between different countries, particularly tensions between the United States and Iran, and has prepared measures to deal with foreign criminal suspects entering Thailand, as well as cyberattacks.

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The NSC meeting, chaired by Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, discussed conflicts between different countries, particularly tensions between the US and Iran. The council believes that the situation won’t escalate further, but has prepared measures to ensure the safety of Thai people in the Middle East and to deal with foreign suspects entering Thailand.

The Prime Minister said the government’s national security policy and plan between 2019 and 2022 will be used as guidelines for protecting the country from security threats. They will be implemented under the security strategy. Security information will be integrated in the first phase to help related agencies share consistent and up-to-date information. This will support their decision-making.


Greenpeace demands gov’t combat air pollution

BANGKOK (NNT) - Greenpeace Thailand and the civil network have held a march, demanding the government escalate its actions against the air pollution crisis, stressing the people’s right to clean air.

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People wearing N95 masks and holding campaign signs, one of which claimed the right to clean air, marched from Benchamabophit temple to the government’s complaints center, where they submitted a letter to the government, asking it to take serious action against the air pollution crisis and the accumulation of PM 2.5 airborne particles, in order to protect Thai people’s health.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s Thailand Country Director Tara Buakamsri said today the government must build clean rooms in public spaces where pedestrians can seek shelter during an air pollution crisis, and must allow the general public to participate in air quality measurement.

He suggested the government purchase more air quality detectors and ensure the operational condition of all equipment, while at the same time the Thai government should this year change its current PM 2.5 particle in atmosphere standards, to comply with the World Health Organization’s interim target 3, at an average of 35 micrograms per cubic meter in a 24-hour period, and the average of 12 micrograms per cubic meter in a 1-year period. The government should also be strict with the regulation of pollution emissions from key sources such as power plants, industrial factories, and vehicles.

The Vice Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment, NopadolPhonsen, who received Greenpeace’s letter, said the government is on track to combat air pollution, and may invite representative of Greenpeace to attend a meeting, in order to hear opinions and suggestions on ways to bring back clean air to the people.


PM urges legal compliance by all to solve air pollution

BANGKOK (NNT) - The government has assured the public that it is capable of solving the air pollution crisis which may require drastic measures. The PM is asking all to comply with the law, while the government looks into the feasibility of installing large-scale air purifiers in the capital.

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The Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has presented to members of the media the government’s papers outlining the protocols addressing the air pollution crisis, stressing that the government has prioritized the mitigation of air pollution in the 2019-2024 national agenda.

He said the government gives number one priority to the general public’s health, and asked all sectors to comply with the law and measures introduced, which may include drastic initiatives that could affect certain sectors.

On proposals to install large-scale air purifiers in Bangkok, the Prime Minister said he has ordered related agencies to conduct feasibility studies, as conditions in Bangkok may differ from other cities that already operate such devices.

To promote public understanding of air pollution hazards and PM 2.5 particulate matter, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has launched the Mobile Pollution Clinic at Victory Monument, to inform the general public on how to protect themselves from these dangerous fine particles. More pollution clinics will be opened in affected provinces such as SamutSakhon, SamutPrakan, PathumThani, and at 68 public health service centers.

In addition, the MOPH has opened an online pollution clinic at www.pollutionclinic.com, where the general public can access information and contact medical professionals more conveniently.

Construction activities are known to be significant sources of particle emissions. During the construction of the Public Relations Department’s government broadcasting and information service operation center at the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand’s headquarters in Bangkok, contractors have regularly washed down the wheels of trucks and the construction site itself with water, in order to minimize the emission of particles from the construction activity, and as a specific commitment to helping limit the air pollution crisis.


Declining number of Chinese visitors to Thailand

BANGKOK (TNA) -- Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (AEROTHAI) sees a decline in the number of Chinese visitors to Thailand during this Lunar New Year festival.

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AEROTHAI president Somnuk Rongthong said from Jan 24 to 30 there would be 21,199 flights over the Thai sky. The traffic dropped by 3.71% from the same festival last year (Feb 4-10, 2019).

He said the number of domestic flights had fallen since the second half of last year and Chinese tourists were visiting Japan instead. The Asian economic slowdown was another factor, he said.

During the present Chinese New Year holiday, flights from China to Japan number 3,899 compared to 3,261 flights from China to Thailand. As a result, Thailand becomes the second most popular destination of Chinese vacationers, following Japan, during the Lunar New Year holiday. Mr Somnuk expected the destination shift among Chinese tourists would continue throughout this year.

Meanwhile, his deputy ThinnakornChuwong said that the spreading novel coronavirus also resulted in the decreasing arrivals from China.

During this Chinese New Year festival, the heaviest air traffic happens at Suvarnabhumi airport with 7,784 flights, followed by 5,541 flights at Don Mueang airport, 2,547 flights at Phuket airport, 1,733 flights at Chiang Mai airport and 611 flights at Samui airport. (TNA)


Thailand welcomed 39.7 million visitors last year, up 4%

BANGKOK (TNA) -- Thailand welcomed 39.7 million visitors last year, up 4.2% year-on-year. China was the biggest market followed by Malaysia, India, Korea and Laos.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn reported the figures and said the arrivals of Indian visitors soared by 24% to 1.99 million thanks to the exempted visa-on-arrival fee.

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According to the minister, Thailand generated 1.93 trillion baht from visitors, up 3.05%. The biggest spenders were from China, followed by Malaysia, Russia, Japan and India.
Regarding domestic tourism, last year saw 166 million Thai tourists/trips, falling by 0.06%. Domestic trips in less popular provinces rose by 0.88% while those in main tourist provinces declined by 0.49%.

The country generated 1.08 trillion baht from domestic tours, up 1.18%. Top earners were Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket provinces. In total, Thailand generated 3.01 trillion baht from tourism last year, up 2.37%.

For this year, MrPhiphat said, the number of visitors should grow steadily by 3-4% to 40.5-41 million due to stimulation measures including the free visa-on-arrival fee, an increase in downtown VAT refund outlets, double entries visas, re-entry permits and mega-events.

He predicted the number of domestic tourists/trips would increase consistently by 2-3% to about 170 million tourists/trips.

The minister saw as negative factors economic problems, natural disasters, conflicts in the Middle East, Tokyo Olympics and UEFA Euro 2020.


Strict measures remain in Thailand to screen out Wuhan Virus

BANGKOK (TNA) -- China restricted travel to and from its Wuhan city to curb the novel coronavirus while Thailand maintained its strict measures to screen out the disease especially during the Chinese New Year festival.

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DrSophonIamsirithaworn, director of the Bureau of General Communicable Disease, said China suspended its flights from Wuhan to Thailand and other public land transport modes from Wuhan and was watching out for any possible spread of the disease in other cities in addition to Wuhan, Beijing and Shenzhen.

In Thailand, health authorities were screening visitors at major airports and told tour guides to closely monitor their customers to find if they had suspicious symptoms, DrSophon said. Most visitors stayed in Thailand 5-6 days, he said.

According to him, the novel coronavirus has its incubation period of about 10 days. It was transmitted between humans when a surgeon was performing a brain operation in a closed environment. It is thus believed that the disease cannot be transmitted in a well-ventilated place. The mortality rate is 1-2% among patients with pneumonia.

Media reported that at least 25 people died of the mysterious disease in China and over 800 were infected. (TNA)


Former parliament president Chai Chidchob died at 92

BANGKOK (TNA) -- Chai Chidchob, former parliament president and Bhumjaithai list MP, died at the age of 92 at 8am on Jan 24.

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Chai was the father of NewinChidchob, chairman of Buriram United Football Club, and Transport Minister SaksayamChidchob. He was also former member of the National Reform Steering Assembly and the National Reform Council and former president of the House of Representatives

Chai was born in Ban Phia Ram village of Phia Ram sub-district in Surin provincial seat on April 5, 1928. He was a son of Miat and RiatChidchob. He finished secondary education at Surawittayakarn School in Surin.

He used his secondary education certificate to apply for MP candidacy until 1996. When the 1997 constitution required an MP to be a graduate, Chai continued his study. He graduated in political science at Ramkhamhaeng University and agriculture extension at SukhothaiThammathirat Open University. He also obtained a master’s degree in political science at Ramkhamhaeng University.

Chai married La-ongChidchob and had five sons and one daughter. His son Saksayam is also the secretary-general of the Bhumjaithai Party. (TNA)


China’s performing art troupe in Bangkok for Chinese New Year Celebration

BANGKOK (TNA) - The renowned Chinese disabled people’s performing art troupe from Beijing, My Dream, will offer cultural shows to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Thailand.

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My Dream has arrived in Thailand as part of the cultural cooperation between the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The troupe performed a special show for over 200 Thai disabled children at China Cultural Center in Bangkok on Wednesday.

TAT governor YuthasakSuppasorn said the special performance by the disabled dance troupe was meant to inspire people with disabilities in Thailand.

My Dream was one of the cultural performances from China, over 150 performers from six China’s provinces would join festivities in Thailand, he said.

They included dance and musical troupe from Jiangxi, acrobatic troupe from Shanxi, Kung Fu troupe from Henan, dance troupe from Jilin, and dance troupe from Inner Mongolia.(TNA)


Tourism Minister officiates CNY Security campaign

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Tourism and Sports Minister has officiated a security campaign for the 2020 Chinese New Year this weekend.

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Minister PhiphatRatchakitprakarn and Commissioner of the Tourism Police Bureau ChettaKomonwattana dispatched a caravan of police to Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown.

In his speech, the Minister said that Thailand is a famous destination for a large number of Chinese tourists looking to spend their time visiting holy sites, dining on fine food and enjoying countless entertainment activities.

Data indicates that the number of Chinese visiting Thailand since 2013 has been constantly increasing, generating an enormous amount of income. He concluded that ensuring the safety of tourists is crucial in promoting the tourism industry, in line with the state’s policy.

Minister Phiphat further explained that the security campaign integrates work from several related units, monitoring landmark tourist attractions and providing facilities and information to visitors during the period.


Public Health Minister joins anti-PM2.5 campaign in Lumpini Park

BANGKOK (NNT) - Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister, AnutinCharnvirakul, today led a group of public health officials to Lumpini Park in Bangkok to distribute PM2.5 filtering masks to members of the public. Mr. Anutin said the government is taking all necessary steps to deal with outdoor burning as well as industrial and vehicle emissions.

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At the King Rama VI Monument in Lumpini Park today (Jan 22), Mr. Anutin together with the public health officials took part in a campaign to build awareness of PM2.5 dust particles and self-protection against air pollution. They distributed protective masks to municipal officials, police officers and street sweepers in Lumpini Park and Wattana and Pathum Wan districts, as their jobs require them to work outdoors.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the government can’t solve this issue alone. It needs cooperation from all sides to reduce activities that create air pollution and implement protective measures. A meeting of the cabinet ministers yesterday considered a proposal for people to work from home and students to study online to reduce vehicle emissions, improve the health of state employees and save utility costs and other expenses affecting private firms.

Mr. Anutin encouraged the general public to look after themselves. If they have to exercise, they should avoid outdoor exercises. According to a Chinese study, people can work out by simply swinging their arms.

Another PM2.5 reduction measure is to change the working hours of civil servants at the Bangkok City Hall and ThaniNoppharat Building to between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Their previous working hours were from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This will help ease traffic congestion during rush hours between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The measure will be lifted until the air quality improves. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has encouraged other agencies to adjust their working hours during this period.


TAT promoting tourism to ESAN region

UDON THANI (NNT) - The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a campaign to stimulate tourism in the Northeastern provinces by adopting travel themes, promoting the region’s gastronomy as well as utilizing technology to facilitate the enjoyment of travelers visiting the region.

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TAT Executive Director for the Northeastern Region SomchaiChompunoi said at a press conference in UdonThani province today, that the TAT and its network partners have sought to work together to provide a more vibrant experience for those visiting the region.

TAT has this year set up monthly themes for travel in ISAN, promoting what’s unique in the region and what each month has to offer, making the region a great place to visit all year round.

The TAT has also worked to utilize QR Code technology to provide a more convenient way of travel.

Once they are in the region, visitors will be able to scan the QR Code allocated to various locations that link to the region’s TAT Facebook page which will provide information, such as hotels, restaurants, car rentals, post offices, and other necessities, as a One Stop Service center for information. Those who can’t find the information they want on the website, are welcome to chat with officers who will be able to provide answers to any questions on Isan.

The service is currently available in all 20 provinces in the ISAN region, while plans to expand to other regions are underway.

Somchai expressed the hope that the campaign will greatly facilitate the travels of visitors to the region. According to TAT’s latest statistics, ISAN welcomed 30 million tourists in 2018, generating 90 billion baht in revenue; the agency is now looking to increase visitor numbers this year to 40 million, with an estimated income of 100 billion baht.


Thai Airways joins Food Waste Management program

BANGKOK (NNT) - Thai Airways International has joined the Food Waste Management program initiated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MSDHS) to minimize waste in food production, as the world is now faced with 1.3 billion tons of unmanageable food waste each year.

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The Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment WarawutSilpa-archa, and the Minister of Transport SaksayamChidchob have announced the start of the Food Waste Management program to help reduce waste. The program is supported by Food Innopolis, the National Science and Technology Development Agency, Thai Airways International, and Thai Smile Airways.

The Minister of Transport said today that Thai Airways will improve its food production lines and supply chain management to reduce unnecessary waste, starting with ingredient sourcing, meal planning, cooking processes, and cabin loading.

The airline is working to reduce cabin waste and regulate the number of meals loaded onto each flight to minimize leftovers which often go to waste. Thai Airways has developed a Pre-Selected Menu option for passengers to book their meal preferences in advance, which will be introduced on Thai Airways operated flights to and from European destinations this year, and further extended to all flights next year. The airline expects this new service will help reduce by 20 percent the number of unwanted meals onboard, reduce 400 kilograms of ingredients daily, and saving 20 million baht each year.

The Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment says food waste is a pressing social issue yet to be properly managed, and can be a major source of greenhouse gas emission. The United Nations has estimated that 1.3 billion tons or one third of all food manufactured each year goes to waste, leading to one of the Sustainable Development Goals being to cut down of food waste by half by 2030.

In Thailand, food waste from consumed and unconsumed food accounts to 33-50 percent of all waste. The MSDHS aims to deploy innovations to help reduce food waste, such as by analyzing the ingredients used by airlines to produce meals and finding suitable technology to improve efficiency and reduce waste during the manufacturing process. Such technologies include a tool that can determine the ripeness of fruit, which can tell accurately at what stage most of the fruit can be used for cooking, reducing the discard rate which would have become waste.


Gov’t to enforce 12 air pollution reduction measures

BANGKOK (NNT) - The government will be enforcing 12 measures addressing the air pollution crisis. The Prime Minister said the government has not been negligent over the issue, however the solution to this problem must be done step-by-step and receive cooperation from all sectors.

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Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has revealed the government’s plans to address air pollution will cover short-term actions and long-term solutions, tailored to the conditions in each area. These measures will be enforced based on the severity of air pollution at the time, starting with general measures for when PM 2.5 airborne dust is measured below 50 micrograms per cubic meter.

Special measures and regulations will be enforced by provincial governors once the dust level is measured from 51 to 75 micrograms per cubic meter. Whenever the dust level reaches 76 to 100 micrograms per cubic meter, traffic restrictions will be imposed to reduce exhaust emissions. Drastic measures, such as the ban on all private vehicles, or only for those older than 10 years, may be enforced should the dust level exceed 100 micrograms per cubic meter.

The Cabinet, in its mobile meeting, has agreed in principle to 12 air pollution reduction measures. These will be further discussed in a meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Gen PrawitWongsuwan. The 12 measures consist of

1. The extension of lorry-free zones in Bangkok, from Ratchadaphisek ring road to the outer Kanchanapisek ring road.

2. The ban on all lorries from entering central Bangkok on odd-numbered days in January and February this year.

3. Exhaust checks on all non-scheduled passenger vehicles, by increasing inspection units to 50, serving 50 districts of Bangkok.

4. Exhaust checks on all passenger and cargo vehicles to prohibit those emitting excessive pollution.

5. The inspection of factories and the issuance of maintenance orders or prohibitions at factories emitting excessive pollution.

6. Regulation of metro line construction sites, as well as other projects, to ensure compliance with pollution control regulations and proper traffic management.

7. The ban on outdoor burning in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces, as well as penalties for violators.

8. The authorization of provincial offices and local administration to regulate outdoor burning, vehicles, factories and construction sites during the polluted period.

9. The discount for fuel products containing less than 10 ppm sulphur, which emit fewer airborne particles after combustion.

10. Campaigns discouraging the use of private vehicles, and mandatory black smoke inspection for all vehicles owned by government employees.

11. Campaigns encouraging engine oil changes for diesel engines older than 5 years to help reduce particle emissions.

12. Campaigns raising public awareness and understanding of the air pollution issue.


PM2.5 on the rise in Chiang Mai

CHIANG MAI (TNA) – The level of PM2.5 skyrocketed to 208 microgrammes per cubic metre in Chiang Mai’s Doi Tao district on Thursday morning, resulting from illegal burning of agricultural produce.

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Open burnings were reported at 29 locations in many districts, surrounding the Chiang Mai city.  The toxic particulate matter rose to the critical level at 208 mcg at 8 am. inDoi Tao district.

Four villagers were arrested for defying the burning ban, effective until the end of April.

In Ang Thong province, about 100 km. north of Bangkok, farmers burned dry stalks of rice plants at night, contributing to the rise of the ultra-fine dust in the province to 64.2microgramme per cubic metres.

Officials will create understanding among farmers and enforce the law strictly to curb illegal burning. (TNA)

 


Suspect claims personal, financial problems are motive behind gold robbery

BANGKOK (TNA) – The suspected gold shop robber claimed that personal issues and financial problems were the motive behind the fatal robbery at the gold shop in Lop Buri during the press conference at the Royal Thai Police headquarters Thursday morning.

The National Police Chief Pol Gen ChakthipChaijinda, along with senior police officials who play key roles in dissolving the case were present at the press briefing.

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PrasitthichaiKhaokaew, the headmaster of a school in Sing Buri was arrested by the Hanuman special taskforce unit yesterday after intensified and extensive investigations, conducted by joint police forces and forensic experts had pinpointed him as the prime suspect.

Prasitthichai did not attend the press briefing today but he was allowed to answer the questions of the media during a phone-in session. 

He said personal issues and financial problems were the motive behind the gold shop robbery. 

He acted alone and expressed his regrets over his action and felt sorry for the victims. He planned to surrender himself on Jan 24 after he finishes his work at school.  

Responding the questions, he said he had planned 2-3 days before he launched the attack. He shot the security guard first to open his way to commit the crime and didn’t mean to hurt the toddler, hit by a stray bullet. 

He claimed repeated shots at the gold shop staff had been caused by his attempt to remove his glove, struck near the trigger.

He has been charged with seven counts including premeditated murder and robbery. He confessed to all charges. 

The police are searching for the last evidence, the silencer, the suspect said he dumped it into the river after gold necklaces were retrieved from his father’s house last night.

The red Yamaha Fino motorcycle and the Czech-made CZ SP-01 semi-automatic pistol, used in the fatal heist belong to his father-in-law and his father, a former policeman, respectively. 

The police will seek the court’s approval for his detention at the Ratchada Criminal Court this afternoon after the case was transferred to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD).


Transport Minister insists on tough anti-smog measures

BANGKOK (TNA)  – Transport Minister SaksayamChidchob said his ministry would implement tough measures to relieve smog and cooperation from all parties were essential for effective solution.

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He said the problem of thick particulate matter 2.5 micrometers and less in diameter (PM2.5) heavily affected people in many provinces over the past week and the prime minister ordered all parties to come up with swift solutions.
MrSaksayam said that his ministry had short, medium and long-term measures to cope with the problem and his officials were taking action against vehicles with unsafe emissions.

“Solving the PM2.5 problem requires cooperation from all parties and all ministries, especially those concerning energy because fossil fuels remain the most popular. In the future we must shift to environment-friendly fuels,” the transport minister said.
The Land Transport Department was changing its regulations to ban vehicles with hazardous emissions and their drivers for good, he added. (TNA)


Police: school director confesses to robbery and killing

LOP BURI (TNA) - A 38-year-old primary school director has confessed to killing three people, including a toddler, while robbing a gold shop in Lop Buri province on January 9.

In a shocking revelation after a manhunt, police said PrasitchaiKhaokaew, a native of Lob Buri who serves as school director in Sing Buri, committed the heinous crime that has captivated the nation.

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CCTV footage shows the man wearing a full-face mask, black shirt and camouflage trousers entered the gold shop inside a shopping mall and started to open fires at customers, security guard and shop staff.

The victims are a female shop staffer, the security guard and the two-year-old boy who was hit by a stray bullet in the head while passing by the shop with his mother.

Since he fled the scene in his motorcycle, the public was kept in the dark amid rumours and speculation until the robber’s identity was revealed on Wednesday.

His Facebook page shows he posted photos of him and his girlfriend enjoying drinks together.  Days later as massive manhunt was underway, his girlfriend also put up photos of him attending school activities like nothing happened.

According to police, the man claimed he intended to be extra-judicially killed by police.  But police has not concluded his motive.  He said he threw the gold jewelry worth about THB600,000 into a river but police have not found them.

As the news broke, his colleagues at the school said they were extremely surprised because Prasitchai who took the post in March last year appeared to be a nice guy.

One of the teachers said Prasitchai was very polite; however, he had brought his pistols to school many times.(TNA)   


Bangkok on alert for Chinese New Year fire hazards

BANGKOK (NNT) - Thai-Chinese communities in Thailand will be celebrating the Chinese New Year this weekend, during which many candles and much incense will be lit, along with the ritual burning of gold and silver paper, any of which could pose a fire hazard and a source of air pollution. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is this year asking the general public to reduce such activities to minimize emissions, and provide guidance on fire prevention.

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The BMA’s Deputy Permanent Secretary Khachit Chatchawanit, has accompanied BMA officials on a visit to Yaowarat road to observe fire prevention measures arranged for Chinese New Year, and distribute pamphlets on fire prevention to the general public.

During the festivities, the general public is encouraged to reduce burning activities as well as candle and incense burning, and to ensure all lit candles and incense are completely extinguished before leaving home, as well as ensuring that all electronic devices and cables are in good condition. Shrines in Chinatown are asked to regulate burning activities and smoke emissions.

The BMA has deployed safety and firefighting units to be on standby at 35 high risk locations across Bangkok, equipped with fire trucks and fire fighting equipment on standby 24 hours a day to quickly respond to fire incidents. The general public can call the 199 or 1555 hotlines at any time of day to report a fire risk.


Police search for stolen gold in Chao Phraya River

 

SING BURI (TNA) – The police are searching for stolen gold ornaments in the Chao Phraya River after the suspected gold robber said he dumped the gold necklaces in the river near the Bang Rachan Bridge.

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National police chief, Pol Gen ChakthipChaijinda supervised the search by diving teams near the Sangkharachawat Temple in Sing Buri.

The suspect, identified as PrasitthichaiKhaokaew, a headmaster of a school in Sing Buri province confessed to the crime, in which three persons, including a toddler were killed.

Prasitthichai told the police during interrogation that he dumped the stolen gold necklaces, worth about 680,000 baht into the river.

The search operation started on Thursday morning and was resumed in the afternoon.

The national police chief then went to the Wat Pho Chai school, 14 kilometres away to serach for more evidence, destroyed there as claimed by the suspect.

The national police chief interrogated the suspect on Thursday morning at a police station in Lop Buri.

In a press briefing after the interrogation, he refused to elaborate on the motive behind the robbery, saying he would disclose the details tomorrow at the Royal Thai Police Bureau.

The suspect acted alone and is not a scapegoat. He was cooperative in the investigation, Pol Gen Chakthip said.  (TNA)


Tourism Authority is coping With mysterious virus, smog

BANGKOK (TNA) -- The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has stepped up its measures and action to cope with the mysterious novel coronavirus from China and smog in the country.

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TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said that as the new coronavirus could be transmitted between humans, TAT was coordinating disease control efforts with the Public Health Ministry, tourist police and immigration police.

The measures included the screening of visitors from China who were arriving for the Chinese New Year festival in Thailand, he said. The TAT governor expected about 300,000 visitors from China during the festival.

The World Health Organization has identified a wholesale seafood market in the central city of Wuhan in Hebei province as a possible source of the virus.

If a patient was detected, officials from all concerned organizations would bring the patient to disease control procedures right away, Mr Yuthasak said.

“I am confident that the joint measures from all organizations can prevent the coronavirus from spreading in Thailand,” he said.

Regarding the air pollution, Mr Yuthasak admitted it affected tourism and his organization was advising tourists to wear face masks to protect themselves. He said that the smog situation should be relieved over time. (TNA)


Thailand found 2 more mysterious virus patients

BANGKOK (TNA) -- Health authorities have found two more patients of the mysterious novel coronavirus, a Thai and a Chinese visitor.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the Thai patient was a 73-year-old woman who had visited the Chinese city of Wuhan. She was the third patient of the disease in Thailand and was recovering at Nakhon Pathom Hospital in Nakhon Pathom province.

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The fourth patient was a Chinese tourist aged 68 who arrived and detected at Suvarnabhumi airport on Jan 19. The visitor was being treated at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province, Mr Anutin said.

According to him, the first two patients are Chinese visitors aged 61 and 74. They already returned to China. International travels have not been banned to control the disease.

Dr Thawee Chotepitayasunon, advisor to the Department of Disease Control, said 321 patients of the novel coronavirus were found in Wuhan, Shangai, Beijing and Shenzhen and nine of them died. All of them either were in or visited Wuhan.

He said screenings of people from Wuhan were intensified as the city had a population of 11 million. The incubation period of the disease lasted 2-14 days. The symptoms of patients in Thailand were less severe than those found in China, Dr Thawee said. (TNA)


Seized narcotics cannot be leaked

BANGKOK (TNA) – The secretary-general of the Narcotics Control Board assured seized narcotics could not be leaked for trafficking.

NiyomTermsrisuk guaranteed security in the storage of seized narcotics in response to online concerns about possible leaks of illicit drugs that authorities had considerably seized.

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The concern could rise because people received numerous news reports on drug suppression but news on the destruction of the drugs was rare, he said.
MrNiyom said that seized narcotics were always checked and verified repeatedly by many officials from different organizations from the process of their seizure to verification by interrogators and technicians, the storage by the Food and Drug Administration and drug incineration.

If there was any inconsistency at any stage through the processes, a suspicious amount of narcotics would be stopped for investigation, he said.
“It is impossible for seized narcotics to be leaked to trafficking,” MrNiyom said.
According to him, on June 26 last year, authorities incinerated 137.4 million speed pills, 3.4 tons of crystal meth, 143 kilograms of heroin, 259 kilogram of opium, 44 kilograms of cocaine and 209 kilograms of other narcotics. On Dec 27, 2019, 10 tons of marijuana were destroyed. (TNA)


 


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Air quality improves nationwide except for North

Thailand can still control the Coronavirus infection situation

Immigration checkpoints implement enhanced hygiene measures

Phuket sets up coronavirus response center

Recommendations to reduce the risk of Coronavirus infection

EIT now teaches how to make a DIY air particle counter

Thailand ready to evacuate Thai nationals from outbreak zones: Thai FM

Six more new Coronavirus cases reported in Thailand

Strict Screening for Coronavirus Stepped up at Thai Airports

Tourism council voices concern over impact of Coronavirus outbreak

PM: Govt ready to repatriate Thai citizens from Wuhan


THAI waives flight change fees for some Chinese cities due to coronavirus outbreak

Chiang Mai international airport flights between Wuhan and Chiang Mai suspended

First Thai woman to identify Coronavirus

Health Minister confirms eight cases of the coronavirus found

New Coronavirus affects tourism, GDP

Thai embassy contacts Thais in Wuhan

Tourism Minister meets tourism sector on virus prevention measures

National Coronavirus Surveillance Center Planned


Airport Rail Link sprays alcohol against coronavirus at railway stations

Strict virus screenings at airports nationwide

Public Health Ministry continues to scan people for coronavirus

New virus infection may be through the eyes


Chiang Mai Zoo holds underwater Lion Dance to celebrate Chinese New Year

NSC monitors US-Iran tensions

Greenpeace demands gov’t combat air pollution

PM urges legal compliance by all to solve air pollution

Declining number of Chinese visitors to Thailand

Thailand welcomed 39.7 million visitors last year, up 4%

Strict measures remain in Thailand to screen out Wuhan Virus

Former parliament president Chai Chidchob died at 92

China’s performing art troupe in Bangkok for Chinese New Year Celebration


Tourism Minister officiates CNY Security campaign

Public Health Minister joins anti-PM2.5 campaign in Lumpini Park

TAT promoting tourism to ESAN region

Thai Airways joins Food Waste Management program

Gov’t to enforce 12 air pollution reduction measures

PM2.5 on the rise in Chiang Mai

Suspect claims personal, financial problems are motive behind gold robbery

Transport Minister insists on tough anti-smog measures

Police: school director confesses to robbery and killing


Bangkok on alert for Chinese New Year fire hazards

Police search for stolen gold in Chao Phraya River

Tourism Authority is coping With mysterious virus, smog

Thailand found 2 more mysterious virus patients

Seized narcotics cannot be leaked