ASIA/THAILAND – Between false news, tensions and lack of vaccines, infections due to Covid-19 are rampant

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Bangkok – “From this week 10 provinces have established a night curfew. Night air traffic is at a standstill throughout Thailand. Those arriving from Bangkok and other red areas must also be quarantined in the other provinces”. This is what Fr. Ferdinando Pistore, a Fidei Donum missionary in Chiang Mai, writes to Agenzia Fides.
The priest confirms the lack of reliable news and the climate of tension regarding the fact that someone has insinuated that the government has increased duties on vaccines that are not yet able to reach the Country. “There are no beds and, for those who are positive for Covid-19, we are starting to propose isolation at home which, for Thai logistical situations, is very problematic. It seems that various clusters of infections have been found in construction sites, then – continues Fr. Pistore – they seem to have become green areas, but the infections do not decrease”. According to information released in the local press, some health officials said a new hybrid variant of COVID-19 was contracted by construction workers in Bangkok. Supakit Sirilak, director of the medical sciences department, has reported the infection of 1,327 of the 1,737 workers in recent days. Of these, 53 were infected with the Delta variant and 168 with Alpha variant, first detected in the UK and India respectively. The combination of both is worrying because it could give rise to another mutation, the expert said. The Anti-Fake News Center of the Ministry of Economy and Digital Society has reported more than 50 cases of fake news published since last month, most of them related to Covid-19 or vaccines.
Police are investigating and for those who have posted or shared misleading information that threatens national security or causes public panic, there may be penalties under Thailand’s Computer Crime Act which provides for a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 baht. Another fake news reported by the Center concerns the four doses of vaccine that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha received.
In the first year of the epidemic, Thailand had managed to contain the virus with very few cases, also thanks to the closure of the borders and the mandatory two-week quarantine for arrivals from abroad. To date, over 9,000 cases of contagion and about 80 deaths a day have been confirmed.