Netizens and the opposition parties are calling for Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to resign following the alleged mismanagements of the latest wave of the coronavirus outbreak, and a backfired government communications campaign.
The third wave of the outbreak has led to more than 26,000 cases in just the past month. The surge in daily cases to more than 2,000 has led to a shortage of hospital beds, the government confirmed last week.
The country is also running out of coronavirus vaccines, as the locally produced ones will not roll out until June, while only 1 million people have been vaccinated since the vaccines started arriving in February.
The shortages of vaccines and beds have prompted a campaign in change.org, หมอไม่ทน or “doctors will no longer tolerate”, to call for Anutin to resign. The petition had gathered more than 150,000 online names by Monday morning.
The hashtag #ทองแท้ไม่กลัวไฟ or “real gold does not fear fire” was also trending on Monday morning with more than 80,000 tweets.
The hashtag was started by public hospitals such as Pakchongnana Hospital, Lampang Hospital and Buddhachinaraj Hospital to show support for Anutin.
However, the hashtag did not gain momentum until critics of the minister used it to call for him to resign, promote their online campaign against him and accused the ministry for using public hospitals’ platforms to promote the government.
Some of them have also pointed out that the contents that supports Anutin from the public hospitals were similar to each other which led them to believe that it was a coordinated government propaganda campaign.
Move Forward MP Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn told Thai Enquirer on Monday that Anutin has to resign, as the country’s current coronavirus problems are due to a lack of proper planning.
“They did not spread out the risk when they were buying vaccines and there was a delay in the vaccination process,” he said.
“The lack of preparation also led to the shortage of hospital beds for infected people and they are infecting others at home and some have died while waiting,” he added.
Wiroj also said that the minister should resign because he continues to stick with the current plan of admitting to hospital everyone who tests positive for the virus, even though this is part of the reason why hard-hit provinces are running out of beds for people that really need them.
“Doctors have recommended new ways of allocating these beds based on hospitals’ capacity in each district and the severity of the patients, but the ministry is still ignoring them,” he said.
He also recommended that people stick to online and mail campaigning for Anutin’s resignation, to avoid the risk of spreading the virus from any public assembly.
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