Thailand’s national police chief transferred the commissioner of the Provincial Police Region 2 to an inactive position due to the existence of illegal gambling dens in his region.
Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, commissioner of the Royal Thai Police Office, transferred Pol Lt Gen Veera Jiraveera, the commissioner of the Provincial Police Region 2, to an inactive position at the Operations Center of the Royal Thai Police Office in Bangkok.
The transfer responded to reports on gambling dens in Rayong, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi and Trat provinces. Four police commanders of the provinces were earlier transferred out of their posts.
The national police chief also formed a committee to find facts after the Office of the Inspector General of the Royal Thai Police Office found evidence that illegal gambling dens in Rayong and Chon Buri provinces spread COVID-19.
The fact-finding committee will check if any local police officers were lenient or took bribes from gambling den operators.
Cockfighting, gambling dens covid-19 playground
Cockfighting rings and illegal gambling dens have also created fresh challenges for Thailand as it struggles to contain its biggest wave of Covid-19 infections since the pandemic began.
Hundreds of cases have been traced to cockfighting arenas and casinos, as an outbreak that began in seafood markets and migrant communities has now spread to such venues.
These cockfighting rings and gambling houses present a major risk as they bring many people together in tight quarters over an extended period of time. Usually without face masks and with lots of talking and shouting — ideal conditions for coivd-19 to thrive.
“These places don’t have good air circulation and are full of people without their masks on. They must be avoided,” said Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control. “No matter if these places are legal or illegal, we must avoid them otherwise we risk bringing the virus to the family, the community.”
While cockfighting isn’t prohibited in Thailand, but gambling is, though people often place bets at cockfighting arenas and illegal gambling dens. As a result, some people who test positive are reluctant to disclose any personal information to authorities. That hinders any tracing efforts and slows the government’s ability to contain the rapidly growing outbreak.
New Outbreaks causes lockdowns
Thailand, which was relatively successful last year in containing the pathogen, has more than doubled its Covid-19 cases in less than a month — to nearly 10,000 — with infections detected in more than 70% of the country’s provinces. The new outbreak has prompted authorities to close schools and temporarily shut some businesses including gyms, spas, pubs and bars in high-risk areas.
The majority of new cases have been among migrant workers employed in the seafood industry in Samut Sakhon province. But at least 76 infections can be traced back to a cockfighting ring in Ang Thong province, while more than 200 cases had histories of being in gambling dens in Rayong province as of Wednesday, according to the Health Ministry.
Authorities have urged people who have been to such venues to give accurate information to the authorities, self-isolate at home for 14 days, and visit the hospitals if they experience symptoms such as fever and cough. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha ordered a probe into people running illegal gambling houses.
Officials on Friday warned of “stricter punishments” for those involved in gambling, and an order issued a day earlier made it possible for authorities to penalize people who conceal their travel histories.