As the tip of 2020 approached, Thailand was in an enviable place.
As different nations confronted hovering coronavirus case numbers, the nation had solely 4,246 infections and simply 60 deaths in a inhabitants of 70 million individuals.
Life had nearly returned to regular. Thailand had even begun to welcome international vacationers once more after a two-week resort quarantine keep.
Then, the week earlier than Christmas, a 67-year-old vendor at a seafood market in Samut Sakhon province, simply outdoors Bangkok, examined constructive to COVID-19 regardless of no abroad journey data.
It stays a thriller exactly the place and from whom the seller contracted COVID-19, however Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has pointed the finger at unlawful immigrants from neighbouring Myanmar.
The outbreak did unfold amongst the native, tight-knit migrant group — a big supply of labour for Thailand’s seafood business — however the World Well being Group (WHO) stated there was no proof it started there.
As questions stay over how precisely the outbreak began, new case numbers have ballooned to greater than 7,000 throughout most of Thailand’s 77 provinces.
There have been one other 9 deaths, though half of these contaminated within the newest wave have now recovered and most of the people haven’t wanted extended hospital remedy.
Even so, Thailand stays on edge.
Second wave ‘worse’ for companies recovering from COVID-19
The second wave has hit enterprise laborious.
For 27 years, Natenapit Worasiri’s restaurant close to the busy Khaosan Street vacationer strip in Bangkok was a mecca for hungry foreigners wanting uncommon Thai dishes.
However her enterprise went “useless silent” when COVID-19 hit Thailand in January 2020 and worldwide borders have been shut.
Whereas she ultimately recovered after a three-month, nationwide lockdown — by providing takeaway meals and socially-distanced eating to lure in locals — the whole lot modified once more a month in the past.
“The day I noticed excessive contaminated numbers in Samut Sakhon I used to be serving meals and clients confirmed me the numbers,” she instructed the ABC.
“I believed it was pretend information, I used to be so shocked.”
Inside days, Ms Worasiri’s enterprise had dried up for the second time.
The Thai Authorities stopped wanting implementing a second nationwide lockdown, however with many individuals too scared to depart residence, the fallout has been the identical.
“The primary outbreak, my earnings went down greater than 80 per cent, however this time was worse,” she stated.
“Some days I obtained solely two tables. It’s lunchtime now, there aren’t any clients or any bookings, and there aren’t any orders for meals supply in any respect.”
Though there hasn’t been a nationwide lockdown, particular person provinces have ordered the closure of faculties, gyms, leisure venues and a few markets.
Eating places and outlets have been instructed to scale back their hours, journey between provinces has additionally been discouraged and folks have been requested to earn a living from home.
The nation has been divided into three zones — purple, amber and inexperienced.
“Crimson zones,” equivalent to Samut Sakhon and Bangkok, have the tightest restrictions, with area hospitals being arrange in these areas.
Residents in amber and inexperienced zones face much less arduous guidelines.
Ms Worasiri, 55, has needed to dip into her financial savings to remain open and is not positive how for much longer she will hold going.
“Truthfully talking, it’s irritating, very irritating as a result of the whole lot was getting higher,” she stated.
“The financial system began to get well, individuals began to return out to spend cash, then this [second outbreak] occurred.”
Can Thailand get management of second wave?
Dr Richard Brown, program supervisor for well being emergencies on the WHO in Thailand, instructed the ABC he was assured Thailand was managing the brand new outbreak successfully.
“As a result of Thailand has this expertise that they’ve constructed up in efficiently controlling the COVID pandemic thus far, what they may have the ability to do is leverage this expertise,” Dr Brown stated.
He added that after Thailand had “re-established management” after its first wave of infections, it turned one of many first nations on the earth to hold out an evaluation of how the well being system responded to COVID-19.
“It concerned trying critically on the totally different technical and coverage areas,” Dr Brown stated.
“Each to establish issues that had gone effectively, so-called classes realized, but additionally to have a look at areas the place there was scope for enchancment.”
Dr Brown stated the evaluation led to plenty of suggestions, that are being carried out and have helped within the present response.
He has prompt it could be one thing different nations ought to think about doing as effectively.
“[Thailand] have sturdy surveillance, monumental capability to reply by means of their speedy response groups and a community of greater than 1,000,000 village well being volunteers,” he stated.
“[They also have] a superb set-up with emergency operation centres, and glorious capacities for communications.”
The variety of infections on this second wave is larger than the primary, however the Thai Authorities says the state of affairs is beginning to stabilise with fewer than 300 new circumstances a day.
“The evaluation carried out by the well being ministry now means that the present wave of COVID could doubtless decelerate inside two weeks,” authorities spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun stated this week.
“Now, the numbers can’t at all times be trusted. But when the numbers are decrease every day, and if this pattern continues, almost definitely we may have a slowdown of this outbreak by the tip of January, hopefully.”
Some Thai residents much less optimistic this time
Thai boxing teacher Chavalit Thepseeda, whose work dried up throughout each waves, will not be as optimistic.
“This time I feel the management of the outbreak is not so good as the primary time as there are excessive numbers [of new cases] daily,” the 30-year-old instructed the ABC.
“The primary one they managed it higher. There was a lockdown and they didn’t enable individuals overseas to return into Thailand.”