Health ministry faces public backlash after suggesting people wear masks at home

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), was criticized by members of the public on Thursday for suggesting that people wear masks inside their homes to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“If we still have to wear masks even when inside the safe vicinity of our own homes, how are we supposed to be living now?” tweeted one person.

The suggestion came after reports of the recent spike in coronavirus cases being linked to infections at home and among family members. It was announced during a press conference held by Dr Kiattipoom Wongrachit, the permanent secretary of the ministry.

Around 74 per cent of the latest infections in Bangkok and its surrounding regions have been from family members, inside community clusters and in office spaces, according to the latest data from the ministry’s Department of Disease Control (DDC). 

“Therefore, we ask for cooperation from those who have to go outside for work or other activities, to come home and immediately change into new clothes, shower, wear masks at all times, social distance, and refrain from eating together for the time being,” said Dr Kiattipoom.

“Office employees are also discouraged from eating together, and should refrain from talking to one another without wearing a mask.”

Many Thais used the opportunity to voice out their frustrations, not only on the mask issue but the government’s failure to manage the coronavirus crisis and the possibility of even more unrealistic expectations.

Many have also expressed concern over citizens’ mental health, highlighting the stress that Thais have to go through amid the numerous lockdowns and third wave of the pandemic. 

“Do we have to wear masks even while at home? We can’t even properly breathe as it is from wearing masks outside all the time,” another Twitter user fired. “Why are you [the government] only relying on the people to curb this outbreak? Why didn’t you use our taxes for good and procure good vaccines?”

“While other nations can now go mask-free outside, we are told to wear our masks even in our homes,” another netizen said.

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