Outrage over latest celebrity Covid case highlights unequal healthcare coverage

Actress Natapohn ‘Taew’ Tameeruks was trending Friday a day after revealing via Instagram that she had tested positive for Covid-19, as netizens criticized her failure to comply with Covid-19 measures including self-isolation, and on the wider relationship between privilege and inequality in Thailand.

“You were supposed to quarantine for fourteen days, but instead you went out all the time,” wrote one user on Twitter. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a low-risk or a high-risk individual — at this point, all risks are equal. You can’t act this irresponsibly in these times.”

Since the pandemic broke out Natapohn has reportedly self-isolated six times after coming into contact with someone who had either tested positive for the virus or was a high-risk individual. Her sixth and latest quarantine was supposed to last from the end of June to mid-July, as news broke on June 28 that another actress whom she had recently worked with had tested positive.

Despite an initial influx of “get well soon” messages from fans and fellow celebrities, netizens soon began to state that Natapohn wasn’t “properly isolating,” as her activities timeline revealed that she had left home for various purposes from as early as July 4.

The actress responded on Instagram that she “didn’t have to quarantine in the first place, as [she] was just a low-risk individual. All [she] needed to do was to avoid people and crowds in general.”

Hato Pet Wellness Center at Central Festival Eastville posted on Facebook that Natapohn visited their store on July 6 despite stating on her timeline that she was at home all day.

Many netizens questioned how Natapohn was able to get tested and access the process of finding a hospital bed so quickly, when countless people have been struggling to do either for weeks.

“I was trying to get tested for Covid at the same hospital as [Natapohn] because my mother is receiving treatments for the virus there, but my request was rejected,” wrote one Instagram user. “So does this mean that I have to be rich and famous not to get rejected?”

Others say that it’s not so much the individuals that need reprimanding but the system as a whole that needs to be fixed to solve this problem of inequality in Thailand.

As one Twitter user wrote, “The rich and powerful in this country never have to suffer through anything because they hold all the privileges, and this is only because our systems allow them to get away with it. Unless that root is fixed, nothing will ever change.”

“Celebrities aren’t wrong for being able to get tested,” wrote another. “We just want to know why [normal people] have to fall into a situation where they lack easy and quick access to basic healthcare rights. Is the Thai government allowing this to happen just to cater to people’s privileges? Why are you not treating your citizens as equals?”

Since April 1, 2021, Thailand has seen a total of more than 350,000 Covid-19 cases. More than 5 million people nationwide live below the poverty line of 5.50 US dollars per day.


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