Here is a look at the top NATIONAL stories, chosen by our Pattaya News/TPN National team, from last week, May 10th to the 16th, with some commentary. They are not in any particular level of importance but are listed in the order of date of publication.
1. Thailand bans foreigners from Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh from entering Thailand until further notice
Following the extreme concern from Thai Public Health Ministry officials over the Covid-19 variant B.1.617.1, which is currently widespread in India and was found in a member of a family from Pakistan currently in quarantine in Thailand last week, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh foreign nationals have been banned from entering the country since last Monday. Last month, India was banned from obtaining certificates of entry to Thailand due to the spread of the new Covid-19 variant before Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal has officially been added. The announcement is until further notice, according to the Foreign Ministry.
2. Two more major pro-democracy prominent activists, Penguin and Ammy, granted bail today after months of detention over lese majeste charges
Two pro-democracy activists were released last Tuesday under similar conditions to previously released protest leaders. Both men have reportedly agreed to the conditions that they must refrain from participating in any activities, organizing or lead any protests, and hosting any speeches that are offensive to the royal institution. Penguin had been on a hunger strike for 57 days upon the release date and had severely weakened his health before being taken for urgent medical assistance last week.
3. Walk-in Covid-19 vaccines will be available to all residents in Thailand nationwide from June onwards, Public Health Minister says
Public Health Ministry gives a green light to provincial health authorities to arrange walk-in vaccination centers in its provinces once it is ready in order to accelerate the domestic injection of up to 70 percent of all residents in each province. The Public Health Ministry is responsible for distributing vaccines upon its request while each province has its own responsibility for the provincial inoculation. More details will be announced from each provincial government. (Editorial note, as of today, May 18th, this may be put on hold according to the PM due to concerns of the potential spread of Covid-19 from walk-in visitors)
4. Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is given emergency use approval by the Thai Food and Drug Administration
Moderna Covid-19 vaccines become the fourth Covid-19 vaccine licensed for emergency use in Thailand, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, and Johson & Johnson. Moderna will be an option for those who wish to pay who may not wish to register for a free Covid-19 vaccine. Despite the approval, it has not been stated when Moderna will be available for purchase in the country.
5. Thai Royal Gazette releases order changing Covid-19 color zones, new measures to start Monday, May 17th
The rezoning of Covid-19 codes in several provinces and the health measures have been officially approved and announced in the Royal Gazette, effective today. Four provinces with an increasing number of infections, including Bangkok, remain in the maximum controlled zone, aka “dark red zone”, while Chonburi has been dropped to a “red zone” or controlled, and Chiang Mai has been dropped to an “orange zone”, or surveillance zone. In “dark red” zones, like Bangkok, dine-in service is back and will only be allowed at 25% capacity until 9:00 P.M. and take-away until 11:00 P.M. In “red” zones, like Chonburi, dine-in will be allowed with normal seating until 11:00 P.M. Other measures, such as alcohol sales at restaurants and the reopening of bars and entertainment venues, are still forbidden across the country.
And, that is all for this week. Thank you as always for reading the Pattaya News/TPN News!