NSC eyes Stage-3 lock­down lift

CCSA backs ad­vice to ex­tend emer­gency

Bangkok Post - - FRONT PAGE - POST RE­PORTERS

A shorter cur­few pe­riod, in­ter-pro­vin­cial travel and a trial of school re­open­ings with a re­duced ra­tio of teach­ers per school­child­ren will be con­sid­ered for the next stage of lock­down eas­ing as coro­n­avirus in­fec­tions con­tinue to fall.

Mean­while, the Cen­tre for Covid-19 Sit­u­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion (CCSA) yes­ter­day en­dorsed a rec­om­men­da­tion to ex­tend the state of emer­gency for an­other month.

In the meet­ing, Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha, who chairs the CCSA, in­structed the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (NSC) to con­sider the third stage of lock­down eas­ing, ac­cord­ing to Cul­ture Min­is­ter It­thiphol Kun­plome who at­tended the meet­ing.

He said the next stage of re­lax­ation could in­clude a one-hour shorter cur­few pe­riod from mid­night-4am, in­ter-pro­vin­cial travel re­sum­ing, and ho­tels re­open­ing.

Last Sun­day, the CCSA short­ened the night cur­few from 10pm-4am to 11pm-4am, and let shop­ping cen­tres and some busi­nesses re­open.

Mr It­thiphol also said the NSC will meet to dis­cuss the de­tails on May 27 or 28.

He also quoted Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Nat­aphol Teep­suwan as telling the meet­ing that some board­ing schools and in­ter­na­tional schools will have a trial re­open­ing on June 1, while the of­fi­cial re­open­ing for all schools na­tion­wide will be on July 1.

“How­ever, Gen Prayut ex­pressed con­cern about the re­open­ing of schools and stressed the need for phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing among school­child­ren and teach­ers to re­duce the risk of Covid19 in­fec­tion,” Mr It­thiphol quoted the premier as say­ing.

To ob­serve so­cial dis­tanc­ing, the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry has de­cided to re­duce the ra­tio of teach­ers per stu­dents in each class from the cur­rent 1:20 to 1:7.

Mean­while, CCSA spokesman Dr Taweesilp Visanuyoth­in told the me­dia yes­ter­day that the meet­ing agreed on the need to ex­tend use of the emer­gency de­cree from the end of this month to the end of June, as rec­om­mended by the NSC.

The de­cree is the pri­mary le­gal ba­sis of the CCSA’s cam­paign against the spread of the virus.

Dr Taweesilp said the ex­ten­sion was nec­es­sary be­cause the coun­try was still bat­tling to con­tain the Covid-19 pan­demic and prevent new in­fec­tions be­ing brought in from abroad.

Next Tues­day, the cab­i­net will rub­ber stamp the ex­ten­sion of the state of emer­gency, he said.

Dr Taweesilp said fur­ther eas­ing of the lock­down will be done grad­u­ally.

He said the idea of re­duc­ing the cur­few pe­riod had been raised yes­ter­day by Chief of De­fence Forces Gen Porn­pipat Benyasiri.

The cur­few pe­riod cut pro­posal will be dis­cussed next Fri­day, when top CCSA of­fi­cials will con­sider al­low­ing more busi­ness types to re­open on June 1, in what he called the third phase of the eas­ing process.

“There is a good chance that the CCSA will shorten cur­few hours. The du­ra­tion of the cur­few hours and when and how it will be en­forced will be dis­cussed at the next meet­ing,” he said.

Re­lax­ing the cur­few how­ever would de­pend on pub­lic co­op­er­a­tion with virus-con­trol mea­sures, he said.

Dr Taweesilp did not re­veal what types of busi­nesses to be al­lowed to re­sume next month.

He also said that no new Covid-19 cases were re­ported over the past 24 hours, but peo­ple should re­main cau­tious be­cause there were still in­fected peo­ple in com­mu­ni­ties.

Dr Taweesilp said that be­tween May 8 and May 21, 45 peo­ple tested pos­i­tive for the dis­ease. Twenty of them were in­fected in other coun­tries and were quar­an­tined on re­turn to Thai­land. The other 25 caught the dis­ease lo­cally.

The 25 lo­cal in­fec­tions con­sisted of 11 peo­ple who were in close con­tact with pre­vi­ously con­firmed cases, six were found by pre-emp­tive test­ing in com­mu­ni­ties, five had vis­ited crowded places, and three peo­ple worked in atrisk pro­fes­sions.

“The 25 peo­ple had been around in ev­ery­day life and this proves that in­fected peo­ple are still out there. So, peo­ple can­not be reck­less,” Dr Taweesilp said.

Of the 3,037 lo­cal Covid-19 cases, 2,910 have re­cov­ered and 71 pa­tients re­main in hos­pi­tals. The death toll is un­changed at 56.

As of yes­ter­day, global Covid-19 cases to­talled 5.19 mil­lion, with 334,621 deaths. The United States had the most cases at 1.62 mil­lion and the most deaths at 96,354, Dr Taweesilp said.

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