[Update-1] Government vows to prosecute patients concealing timeline to authorities in DJ Matoom’s party cluster

Update

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) announced on Wednesday afternoon that they would press charges and prosecute those who continue to conceal their information and timeline regarding their whereabouts during their time of infection.

“Information Update from the Public Health Department in Bangkok: On cases where infected patients are concealing their information to the investigative team in Bangkok – once we have further information on these patients, we will update the timeline as soon as possible. Those who continue to violate the law and refuse to disclose their timeline to authorities will be notified to the police for further legal proceedings,” said Police Captain Earth Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, spokesman for the BMA, in a public announcement on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon. 

Among the infected party attendees is Patient 658, identified as a male “public official” who has also refused to disclose information to authorities. Royal Thai Police Chief General Suwat Jangyodsuk announced on Wednesday that the police would not “protect” any who violate the law, regardless of occupation or rank, and carry the matter with the same legal proceedings according to the standards.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul also said on Wednesday that those who are unwilling to cooperate with authorities and the public by concealing their information would be prosecuted accordingly.

“This person is probably relying on his position as a government official, but there is no way that he is above the doctors,” the Health Minister said regarding Patient 658. “The more they don’t reveal this – you don’t even have to use the Communicable Disease Law for this, just the fact that you are disclosing false information to authorities is already illegal.”

When reporters again asked whether or not hosting such parties is illegal, Anutin explained that all the government has asked for is cooperation from all fronts. Gatherings and caterings of large crowds as well as drinking are prohibited. If investigations reveal that the Banyan Tree Hotel has sold alcohol, opened after 9 pm, and violated such laws – then the government would prosecute the participants involved accordingly.

According to the requirements issued under Section 9 of the Emergency Decree announced on January 6, 2021 – infected patients who refuse to disclose or provide false information will be prosecuted by law, could face up to two years of imprisonment, a fine of 40,000 baht, or both. 

Two dozen new Covid-19 infections have been linked to the party hosted by Techin Ploypetch, a.k.a. DJ Matoom. The DJ tested positive himself and triggered public outrage after hosting the “superspreader” birthday event on 9 January, in violation of government guidelines.

Three of the new cases were were public figures, identified only as Patients 647, 657, and 658, according to the Facebook page of Police Captain Earth Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, spokesman for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. Patient 647 gave their occupation as actor and singer.

Netizens expressed outrage at the apparent refusal by the three celebrities to provide any information to authorities regarding their whereabouts during their incubation period.

“Again? You won’t provide any information,” one user commented on the Facebook page.

“Can you do such a thing?” another user wrote. “You are a public figure, yet you are not providing any information to the public – this calls for even stronger condemnation.”

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul spoke with reporters on Tuesday regarding the latest controversy around the new cluster originating from parties and gatherings, and said that although such actions are discouraged, they aren’t against the law.

“The law isn’t limiting [these types of gatherings],” said the minister. “The law says you cannot open restaurants beyond 9pm, cannot sell alcohol, and to avoid hosting and attending parties and gatherings. If we had forced people to stop [gatherings and parties], then many would be unhappy.”

“If there are those who have done such deeds, society will never let them get away with it. We must all be conscientious in our actions, and need cooperation from all fronts. If society deems what has happened to be wrong, then they are welcome to condemn those people.”

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