Government to reopen businesses in 32 provinces before considering nationwide easing

Thailand’s Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said on Monday that it would consider easing restriction and open businesses in 32 out of 77 provinces in Thailand as new infection numbers decrease.

Thailand has confirmed coronavirus cases in 68 provinces out of 77, however, 32 provinces have not seen any cases in the past 14 days. They will be the provinces where restrictions are eased on a preliminary basis before the rest of the country is considered.

Businesses such as department stores, restaurants, and hair salons will be among those allowed to be open.

The country reported around 100 new cases when the State of Emergency was declared on March 26. That number is now down to around 30 per day. There was no fatality on Monday, with the death toll still at 47. It is the third straight day with no fatalities from the virus.

The government is also seeking proposals from the private sector on the reopening of businesses.

“We have to talk to all sides, including businesses, to discuss and propose how we are going to ease up the lockdown measures,” said CCSA’s spokesperson, Dr Thaweesin Visanuyothin.

“It has to be done gradually, area by area, and based on risk assessment.” He added, “Provinces that did not report any case or new cases for a period of time will be the first ones to be considered for the easing up of lockdown measures.”

Reopening plans from other countries will also be taken into CCSA’s consideration in order to learn from their mistakes and adapt them into Thailand, Thaweesin added. 

Kamphaeng Phet, Chai Nat, Trat, Nan, Bung Karn, Phichit, Ranong, Sing Buri and Ang Thong have reported no cases since the outbreak began.

Statistic consideration

Based on MOH’s estimation, the coronavirus’s reproduction rate (Ro, R-nought or r-zero) in Thailand is now at 1.12, said Thaweesin. The R-nought number represents the average number of people to which a single infected person will transmit the virus.

The World Health Organization estimated in January that the coronavirus Ro is between 1.4 and 2.5. Preliminary studies put it between 1.5 and 3.5 compared to the common flu’s 1.3 and SARS’ 2.0. 

“The number is down to 1.12 because of everyone’s efforts to stay home,” he said. “By this rate, the current average of around 200 new cases per week will down to 22 around the end of June.”

However, if the reproduction rate goes back up to 1.8, the number of total cases will increase from the current 2,792 to 5,211 cases by June 28.

“As you can see, the increase from 1.12 to 1.8 will already give us more than 2,000 new case, and we have to project this picture in order to prepare for more medical supplies and beds,” Thaweesin commented. “We do not want to see 1.8, and what we want to do is to keep this number down.”

The Ministry of Health is now planning for a more proactive approach by targeting the group of people that are more at risk, said CCSA, which includes labour intensive workers and people in provinces with continuous records of new cases. This includes Bangkok, Phuket and Chonburi, in which they are currently following up on suspicious cases. 


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