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  • Thai private hospitals reserve COVID-19 vaccines ahead of approval

    Thai private hospitals reserve COVID-19 vaccines ahead of approval

    By Chayut Setboonsarng

     

    2021-01-18T113313Z_1_LYNXMPEH0H0JI_RTROPTP_4_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-THAILAND.JPG

    A healthcare worker takes a nasal swab sample from a migrant worker for a COVID-19 test at a market, amid fears of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Pathum Thani province, Thailand, January 13, 2021. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

     

    BANGKOK (Reuters) - Two private hospitals in Thailand have ordered millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines ahead of regulatory approval, adding to government orders of vaccines as the Southeast Asian country tackles a second wave of the virus.

     

    "We ordered one million doses of the Sinovac vaccine with an option to buy nine million more," Boon Vanasin, the chairman of Thonburi Healthcare Group Pcl, told Reuters.

     

    From the initial one million doses, he plans to use about half to inoculate staff in its network of 40 hospitals and workers in his other businesses, once receiving approval from Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

     

    The Thai government has separately ordered two million doses from China's Sinovac Biotech and expects delivery of 200,000 doses with plans to inoculate frontline workers and medical professionals in high-risk areas next month.

     

    The government has also ordered 61 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be produced by local firm Siam Bioscience for domestic use and export.

     

    "We can’t just wait for the government," Boon said, adding that it was not clear how many doses from the government’s vaccine stockpile would reach private hospital workers.

     

    For patients, Thonburi's medical centres plan to offer two vaccine injections for 3,200 baht ($106.28).

     

    "We cannot take a profit here because it is a humanitarian issue for the country," he said.

     

    For most of last year, Thailand kept the number of coronavirus cases low, but a second outbreak in December has brought confirmed infections to 12,423 with 70 deaths.

     

    Another private hospital, Vibhavadi Medical Centre Pcl, has ordered 10,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, managing director Chaisit Kupwiwat, told Reuters.

     

    So far, Thailand's FDA has received registration requests for the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines.

     

    Thailand is expected to approve one of the vaccines this week for emergency use, Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, told a briefing without elaborating.

     

    Last week, the FDA said it was processing AstraZeneca's request, which it expected to approve soon.

     

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    -- © Copyright Reuters 2021-01-18
     
    18 January 2021
    1202169
  • Almost 10 Police Officers Involving in Labour Smuggling

    Almost 10 Police Officers Involving in Labour Smuggling

     

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    BANGKOK, Dec 19 (TNA) – Almost 10 police officers were allegedly involved in smuggling migrant workers across the Thai-Myanmar border and the investigation is underway, said National Police Chief, Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk.

     

    He said the initial investigation on labour smuggling in Kanchanaburi’s Sangkhlaburi district found that state officials and almost ten police officers to be involved in aiding illegal labour smuggling or being negligent over it.

     

    Criminal prosecution and disciplinary action will be taken against the culprits and the investigation is also being conducted in Tak’s Mae Sot district, bordering Myanmar.

     

    Full Story: https://tna.mcot.net/english-news/line-today-english-news-620623

     

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    -- © Copyright TNA 2021-01-19
     
    19 January 2021
    1202305
  • Study showing home-learning cuts maths ability by 50% rings alarm bells in Thailand

    Study showing home-learning cuts maths ability by 50% rings alarm bells in Thailand

    By The Nation

     

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    File photo for reference only
     

    The government’s Equitable Education Fund (EEF) has presented research showing students lose 50 per cent of their maths knowledge and 30 per cent of their reading literacy after prolonged home-learning away from school.

     

    Thousands of Thai students are learning from home after all schools in 28 provinces under maximum Covid-19 controls were closed earlier this month. As a result, learning conditions have deteriorated, said EEF education economist Pumsaran Tongliemnak on Monday.

     

    He cited a study by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) which found that spending a long time at home cut students’ maths knowledge by half and their reading literacy by almost a third. Learning via screens affects mental health as well as social and emotional development, Pumsaran commented.

     

    The NWEA study’s results are consistent with research from Massachusetts’ Institute of Technology (MIT) which shows learning through educational technology alone does not compensate for non-school effects such as declining knowledge, lack of social experience, poor access to proper nutrition and also age-appropriate study.

     

    Pumsaran said that although Thailand has yet to study the affect of Covid-19 on education, there was enough available evidence to predict inequality impacts on Thai education in two key areas.

     

    These were students falling out of the education system, and a decline in learning and health development among vulnerable groups – especially disadvantaged children, those in remote areas, children with disabilities, and those who need special education.

     

    Pumsaran predicted that prolonged home-schooling would widen the education inequality gap between rural and city children by two school years. In the long-term, it may affect economic inequality by causing the cycle of poverty across generations to continue, he added.

     

    Kraiyos Patrawart, deputy managing director at EEF, said Thailand’s educational inequality in the three years before Covid-19 had improved among the poorest households in terms of class absence rate.

     

    However, the fresh Covid-19 outbreak had meant that 143,507 extremely poor children in the 28 “maximum control” provinces could have no school for two semesters or 40 per cent of the academic year.

     

    “The biggest concern is children’s learning development and growth. We should make the most of the remaining three months [of the academic year] if schools can open as normal, with teachers checking students' health and learning, running after-school programmes, and monitoring the gap of classes for children in remote areas,” said Kraiyos.

     

    Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30401426

     

     

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    -- © Copyright The Nation Thailand 2021-01-19
     
    19 January 2021
    1202235
  • Okay given for Bt300 foreign tourist entry fee

    Okay given for Bt300 foreign tourist entry fee

    By The Nation

     

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    Tourism and Sports Minister Phipat Ratchakitprakarn (Photo credit: Thai Government)

     

    The National Tourism Policy Committee has approved the Tourism and Sports Ministry’s proposal to collect a Bt300 fee from every tourist entering the country, said minister Phipat Ratchakitprakarn on Thursday.

     

    The online fee will become effective once the measure is published in the Royal Gazette.

     

    The money collected will go to the tourism promotion fund.

     

    Phipat said the fee would help fund management and development of Thai tourism, as well as insurance for foreign tourists during their stay.

     

    The next step is for state agencies to draw up details of the fee collection.

     

    About 10 million foreign tourists are expected to visit Thailand this year.

     

    Meanwhile the committee also viewed the status of the Special Tourist Visa (STV) scheme, which came into effect in September last year.

     

    As of January 11, a total of 1,114 tourists had entered Thailand on STVs, with another 123 set to arrive this month.

     

    Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/business/30401251

     

     

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    -- © Copyright The Nation Thailand 2021-01-15
     
    14 January 2021
    1201618
  • AOT going ahead with airport expansion plans despite expected Bt10-bn operational loss

    AOT going ahead with airport expansion plans despite expected Bt10-bn operational loss

    By THE NATION

     

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    Airports of Thailand (AOT) expects operational losses at Bt10 billion in fiscal year 2021 for the first time since its establishment 40 years ago, AOT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said.

     

    “However, with the current cash flow of Bt32 billion, AOT would continue to expand six airports in 2021 as planned, with total investment of Bt92 billion,” he said.

     

    Nitinai added that this year AOT would propose a plan for expansion of the eastern, western and northern terminals at Suvarnabhumi Airport, aiming to accommodate 120 million passengers per year.

     

    “Total investment for expansion at Suvarnabhumi would be close to Bt60 billion,” he added.

     

    “The rest Bt32 billion investment will include the third phase of Don Mueang Airport expansion, which consists of constructing a new southern terminal to replace the existing domestic terminal.

     

    “AOT is now conducting environmental impact assessment of the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang projects and expects to submit the proposals to the Ministry of Transport and the Cabinet within May. The bidding process could start before the end of 2021,” Nitinai said.

     

    Despite a projected loss in 2021, Nitinai is confident that the company’s situation will improve by the end of 2022 when the Covid-19 vaccine should become widely available in Thailand and international travel should be fully restored.

     

    “With enough cash flow we will not need to borrow additional funds in 2021,” he added. “Furthermore, in 2020 we managed to reduce our cost by 29 per cent and expect to further reduce 9 per cent this year.”

     

    Currently AOT’s airports have around 15,460-25,000 passengers per day, dropping drastically from the average 200,000 passengers per day before Covid-19, which generated cash flow of Bt40 billion annually.

     

    Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30401450

     

     

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    -- © Copyright The Nation Thailand 2021-01-19
     
    19 January 2021
    1202285
  • Pheu Thai MP clarifies on 'luxury' watch

    Pheu Thai MP clarifies on 'luxury' watch

    By THE NATION

     

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    A Pheu Thai Party member of Parliament, Yutthapong Jarassathian, told a press conference on Tuesday that a "luxury watch" he was accused of failing to report to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) was not expensive enough to warrant disclosure.

     

    According to NACC regulations, any asset worth more than Bt200,000 owned by political officials and their spouses must be reported in the list of assets they submit.

     

    Reungkrai Leekitwattana, a lawyer, former senator and former party-list MP of Pheu Thai, had earlier sent a letter to the NCAA to investigate Yutthapong’s watch.

     

    Reungkrai said that the asset list Yutthapong had submitted to the NCAA on May 25, 2019 did not mention the watch that he was wearing. However, the asset list of Yutthapong's wife, valued at Bt9.55 million, included a luxury watch worth Bt1.5 million.

     

    “My watch costs only about Bt10,000 and therefore is not needed to be reported to the NCAA,” said Yutthapong, the MP from Maha Sarakham province.

     

    After the conference concluded, Reungkrai walked up to Yutthapong and offered to buy the watch for cash, but Yutthapong did not respond and walked out of the room.

     

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    Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30401461

     

     

    nation.jpg

    -- © Copyright The Nation Thailand 2021-01-19
     
    19 January 2021
    1202280
  • Row over contact-tracing app threatens to blow hole in Thailand’s COVID defence

    Row over contact-tracing app threatens to blow hole in Thailand’s COVID defence

     

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    This photo illustration shows the Thai ‘MorChana’ contact tracing application on a smartphone in Bangkok on January 7, 2021, after Thai health officials encouraged people to use the tracking app to help curb the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak in the country. (Photo by Jack TAYLOR / AFP)

     

    Thailand’s much-touted contact-tracing app, MorChana, risks losing its “national hero” status as questions emerge about its efficacy and transparency.

     

    Last Friday (Jan 15), the MorChana Volunteer Team abruptly announced the government had taken full control of the app, adding they hoped its potential to alert people of COVID-19 risks would be maximised. The app uses a red, orange, yellow and green colour code to show users their risk level.

     

    The app’s handover sparked wild speculation that authorities were meddling too much in the management of MorChana, which has already got 7 million downloads.

     

    Full Story: https://www.thaipbsworld.com/row-over-contact-tracing-app-threatens-to-blow-hole-in-thailands-covid-defence/

     

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    -- © Copyright Thai PBS 2021-01-19
     
    19 January 2021
    1202331
  • PM promises "Fast - Safe - Transparent - Comprehensive" vaccine program - no mention of foreigners.

    PM promises "Fast - Safe - Transparent - Comprehensive" vaccine program - no mention of foreigners.

     

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    Image: Daily News

     

    Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has urged the health authorities to conduct a fast Covid-19 vaccine rollout. 

     

    Yet health minister Anutin Charnvirakul admitted one of the vaccines won't arrive in Thailand until JUNE. 

     

    There was also no mention of the word "foreigners" in the Daily News report - just Thai people. 

     

    Anutin addressed the press after a one hour briefing with Prayuth about the vaccination program. 

     

    He said that the PM had ordered a fast, safe, comprehensive and transparent rollout free from political interference or influence. 

     

    Promising "equality" he said that everyone would be vaccinated in a year in what would be the health department's biggest vaccination program ever. 

     

    Health workers would be first.

     

    No mention was made of foreigners living in Thailand, just Thais. 

     

    He would not stand in the way of other authorities who plan to purchase their own vaccine lots. This was not an abrogation of responsibility on behalf of the government, he said. 

     

    Places like downtown Khon Kaen and Bangkok have suggested they will purchase millions of doses and vaccinate themselves.

     

    In the capital alone a spokesman said earlier this week that a budget was available for 5 million jabs.

     

    Anutin said that 26 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine had been bought and the first lot would arrive in June. Regarding Sinovac the company is still seeking registration of the vaccine in China and it would also need to be approved by the Thai FDA. 

     

    Ministerial aide Dr Sophon Mekthon told the press that the first members of the public to get the vaccine would be Thai people over 60, the chronically sick with diseases like diabetes, lung infections and high blood pressure. 

     

    Children under 16 or 18 - a 10 million member group - would have to wait.

     

    Source: Daily News

     

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    16 January 2021
    1201805
  • 'I gave up a long time ago': Australian stranded for nearly a year in Thailand

    'I gave up a long time ago': Australian stranded for nearly a year in Thailand

    By Rachael Dexter

     

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    Justin Peck will have been in Thailand for one year on January 24.

     

    An Australian man who has been stranded in Thailand for 10 months claims he has been abandoned by the federal government after it cancelled his ticket on a flight home this week and cut him off from further financial support.

     

    Justin Peck, 41, originally from Melbourne, left his business job in Hong Kong in early 2020 and travelled to Bangkok for what should have been a short holiday.

     

    When the pandemic struck and Thailand closed its borders in March, Mr Peck had no job and no way to get home.

     

    Full Story: https://www.smh.com.au/national/i-gave-up-a-long-time-ago-australian-stranded-for-nearly-a-year-in-thailand-20210118-p56v2s.html

    19 January 2021
    1202297
  • Thailand Live Tuesday 19 Jan 2021

    Thai private hospitals reserve COVID-19 vaccines ahead of approval

    By Chayut Setboonsarng

     

    2021-01-18T113313Z_1_LYNXMPEH0H0JI_RTROPTP_4_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-THAILAND.JPG

    A healthcare worker takes a nasal swab sample from a migrant worker for a COVID-19 test at a market, amid fears of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Pathum Thani province, Thailand, January 13, 2021. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

     

    BANGKOK (Reuters) - Two private hospitals in Thailand have ordered millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines ahead of regulatory approval, adding to government orders of vaccines as the Southeast Asian country tackles a second wave of the virus.

     

    Full story: https://forum.thaivisa.com/topic/1202169-thai-private-hospitals-reserve-covid-19-vaccines-ahead-of-approval/

     

    18 January 2021
    1202194