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Thailand’s Health Ministry has now designated the Covid-19 Coronavirus as a dangerous communicable disease. The designation will give authorities more weapons to combat the spread of the virus.
The announcement came as the ministry on Saturday confirmed one new infection, bringing the national total to 42.
The latest victim is a 21-year-old Thai salesman whose job brought him into contact with foreign tourists.
The man became ill on Feb 24 and sought treatment for a fever and cough at a private hospital. He is now being treated at Nopparatrajathanee Hospital in Bangkok, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said at a daily news briefing.
Thailand has not yet had a death from the coronavirus, 28 patients have recovered and 14 are being treated in hospital.
The “dangerous communicable disease” announcement, signed by Mr Anutin, is based on provisions in Sections 5 and 6 of the Communicable Disease Act. It was published in the Royal Gazette on Saturday.
Earlier, the national committee on communicable diseases categorized the Coronavirus as a dangerous communicable disease. This allows health authorities to respond more quickly to contain the outbreak.
The announcement empowers officials to order people suspected of being infected to undergo treatment. It also allows them to put people in quarantine. Even more close venues affected by the coronavirus, among other measures.
The ministry also announced plans to begin handing out free face masks on Monday. Issuing 100,000 face masks a day, with a maximum of three per person. They will be distributed at the ministry compound in Nonthaburi.
On Friday, a vendor was charged with selling face masks at inflated prices during a check on shops.
The vendor admitted selling masks at 100 baht for a package of five. The vendor said the cost price was high and she cold not sell them for any less. Face masks and hand-sanitizing gel are now categorized as price-controlled goods.
The demand for face masks and hand-sanitizing gel has also skyrocketed in recent weeks. Thailand’s Prime minister recently assured citizens that there would be no shortage of face masks. However despite his reassurances face masks have been hard to find, especially in Chiang Rai.
Pharmacies in malls and throughout the city display signs in Chinese, Korean and English saying SOLD OUT. When asked when they would have more supply vendors have said when more are available?
Vendors found guilty of overcharging for face masks and hand sanitizing gel face a fine of up to 140,000 baht. And also a possible jail term of up to seven years.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has also posted a message on his Facebook page, saying his ministry will hand out 100,000 face masks a day, starting Monday. Don’t get your hope up in Chiang Rai its only in Nonthaburi province.