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COVID cases in Thailand today: 

 

Record number of deaths, the number os new cases has been unbelievably hovering around 20,000, probably the only country in this world where there is no spikes  which is why I say unbelievable.

 

Total New Cases 19,843 (  +240 )

 

Deaths 235 ( +86 )

 

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https://thethaiger.com/news/national/wear-a-condom-and-a-mask-health-department-advises-covid-safe-sex

Wear a condom and a mask: Health department advises Covid “safe” 
Published on  Monday, August 9, 2021 18:29 By narisasethi

 

mask-condom-e1628507532155.jpg

 

Wear a condom… and a face mask. Find a sex position that is not face-to-face. Don’t kiss. Avoid saliva… and other secretions. And make it short. That’s what Thailand’s Department of Health is advising. After a prostitute in Western Thailand contracted Covid-19, the department announced nine safe sex guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

 

Along with no kissing, no oral sex, and no anal sex, the department says to shower before sex and to use disinfectant to clean the bed or other areas where sex is performed. Positions should maintain a safe distance between faces. (Don’t worry, we have a so-called “Coronasutra” graphic below.)

 

People should avoid sex with strangers, according to the Director of the Department of Health’s Office of Reproductive Health, Dr Peerayuth Sanukul. Sex parties, which could result in a cluster outbreak, should be avoided.

 

The doctor says that before engaging in any sexual activity, people should think about safe sex procedures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. People at high risk of contracting the virus, those who were recently infected, and those who are waiting for test results should all refrain from having sex to reduce the risk of transmission to others, the doctor says.

 

Back in June, the Department of Health advised that lovers and spouses who are at risk of Covid-19 infection should avoid sex altogether, especially those who are waiting for a test result. The doctor had also warned about sex with strangers.

 

With the sex worker in Kanchanburi, a province bordering Myanmar, recently testing positive for Covid-19, the department came up with guidelines on how to prevent Covid-19 transmission during intercourse.

 

Safe sex guidelines by Thailand’s Department of Health…

 

1. Wash your hands and shower before and after having sex.

 

2. Avoid kissing because the Covid-19 virus can be spread through saliva.

 

3. Refrain from doing oral sex or having anal sex as Covid-19 virus can be contaminated in faeces

 

4. Use condoms, dental dams, and rubber gloves to reduce contact with saliva or other types of secretions.

 

5. Wear masks to cover your nose and mouth during sex to prevent the spread of infection through heavy breathing.

 

6. Favour positions where you are not face-to-face while having sex to avoid contact with saliva or other secretions and spend as little time as possible (Basically, have a quickie.)

 

7. Avoid group sex or swapping sex partners.

 

8. Use disinfectants such as 70% alcohol, detergent, bleach to clean the sleeping area or the surface where sex was performed.

 

9. Condoms, disposable tampons, dental dams, and rubber gloves infected with secretions should be thrown away in a covered bin.[/size]
 

Coronasautra – Sex positions in the Covid-19 era

This infographic is NOT from Thailand’s Public Health Department, but the positions are in line with the department’s guidelines.

 

coronasutra.jpg

 

Infographic from Thailand’s Department of Health

233580418_4261692283951145_5531651862146

 

Edited by Yamato
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3 hours ago, Yamato said:

https://thethaiger.com/news/national/wear-a-condom-and-a-mask-health-department-advises-covid-safe-sex

Wear a condom and a mask: Health department advises Covid “safe” 
Published on  Monday, August 9, 2021 18:29 By narisasethi

 

mask-condom-e1628507532155.jpg

 

Wear a condom… and a face mask. Find a sex position that is not face-to-face. Don’t kiss. Avoid saliva… and other secretions. And make it short. That’s what Thailand’s Department of Health is advising. After a prostitute in Western Thailand contracted Covid-19, the department announced nine safe sex guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

 

Along with no kissing, no oral sex, and no anal sex, the department says to shower before sex and to use disinfectant to clean the bed or other areas where sex is performed. Positions should maintain a safe distance between faces. (Don’t worry, we have a so-called “Coronasutra” graphic below.)

 

People should avoid sex with strangers, according to the Director of the Department of Health’s Office of Reproductive Health, Dr Peerayuth Sanukul. Sex parties, which could result in a cluster outbreak, should be avoided.

 

The doctor says that before engaging in any sexual activity, people should think about safe sex procedures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. People at high risk of contracting the virus, those who were recently infected, and those who are waiting for test results should all refrain from having sex to reduce the risk of transmission to others, the doctor says.

 

Back in June, the Department of Health advised that lovers and spouses who are at risk of Covid-19 infection should avoid sex altogether, especially those who are waiting for a test result. The doctor had also warned about sex with strangers.

 

With the sex worker in Kanchanburi, a province bordering Myanmar, recently testing positive for Covid-19, the department came up with guidelines on how to prevent Covid-19 transmission during intercourse.

 

Safe sex guidelines by Thailand’s Department of Health…

 

1. Wash your hands and shower before and after having sex.

 

2. Avoid kissing because the Covid-19 virus can be spread through saliva.

 

3. Refrain from doing oral sex or having anal sex as Covid-19 virus can be contaminated in faeces

 

4. Use condoms, dental dams, and rubber gloves to reduce contact with saliva or other types of secretions.

 

5. Wear masks to cover your nose and mouth during sex to prevent the spread of infection through heavy breathing.

 

6. Favour positions where you are not face-to-face while having sex to avoid contact with saliva or other secretions and spend as little time as possible (Basically, have a quickie.)

 

7. Avoid group sex or swapping sex partners.

 

8. Use disinfectants such as 70% alcohol, detergent, bleach to clean the sleeping area or the surface where sex was performed.

 

9. Condoms, disposable tampons, dental dams, and rubber gloves infected with secretions should be thrown away in a covered bin.[/size]
 

Coronasautra – Sex positions in the Covid-19 era

This infographic is NOT from Thailand’s Public Health Department, but the positions are in line with the department’s guidelines.

 

coronasutra.jpg

 

Infographic from Thailand’s Department of Health

233580418_4261692283951145_5531651862146

 

 

jin kumgong.

 

shld just follow ur sakti bkk teochew Towkay friend and baoed the whole joint.

 

then like that can piak piak raw without rubber or face mask.

 

wahahahahhahahha

 

Soapy massage Thailand – UDON A2Z INFORMATION | Massage parlors, Massage,  Thai massage

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https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Coronavirus/Thailand-scrambles-for-COVID-19-antiviral-as-vaccines-run-short?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20210810190000&seq_num=14&si=44594

 

Thailand scrambles for COVID-19 antiviral as vaccines run short
Bangkok to import more Favipiravir as patient numbers surge

 

https%253A%252F%252Fs3-ap-northeast-1.am

The Thai government began converting an air cargo warehouse into a field hospital at Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok on July 28 as the number of COVID-19 patients climbs.   © Reuters
APORNRATH PHOONPHONGPHIPHAT, Nikkei staff writerAugust 10, 2021 15:20 JST

 

BANGKOK -- After a botched vaccine rollout that saw a third wave of COVID-19 wash over Thailand, the country is rushing to secure supplies of the antiviral medication Favipiravir as the number of patients and fatalities spirals higher.

 

The Pharmacy Council of Thailand has issued a warning letter to the Public Health Ministry about a possible shortage of Favipiravir, as demand for the drug is forecast to surge as high as 30 million pills per month and could reach more than 50 million pills if the number of COVID-19 patients continues to rise.

 

"Although the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) has successfully developed our own [version of] Favipiravir, production capacity is only 2 million pills per month," Jiraporn Limpananon, president of the council, said in a statement, referring to the GPO's drive to produce Favipiravir since last year, when the first wave of the coronavirus hit.

 

Favipiravir, sold under the brand name Avigan, is approved as a treatment for new and emerging influenza in Japan. It is also being studied as a treatment for other viral infections, including SARS and COVID-19. Thailand began importing it, mostly from Japan, to treat COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic last year.

 

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Japan's Fujifilm Holdings restarted a clinical trial for its antiviral medication Avigan, which has not yet been approved by the country's health ministry as a COVID-19 treatment.   © Reuters

 

In mid-2021, the GPO successfully developed its own version of Favipiravir, which it markets under the brand name "Favir" (200 mg per tablet). It was registered by Thailand's Food and Drug Administration in early August. In the first phase, capacity is up to 2 million tablets per month, with the aim of continuously expanding production.

 

"The Public Health Ministry should urgently seek additional medicine from other sources as soon as it can, otherwise Thailand will face a serious shortage of Favipiravir at a time that the number of new patients is forecast to rise sharply in August," she said.

 

Favipiravir has been a key medication in the treatment of patients suffering from severe COVID-19 infections in Thailand. The government has secured supplies of the drug specifically for the pandemic, as it is available by prescription only and is not sold over the counter.

 

GPO Director Dr. Vitoon Danwiboon has sought to reassure the public, saying the GPO has secured about 43.1 million pills for August, when the number of COVID-19 patients is forecast to peak, through imports from Japan.

 

On Tuesday, daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 remained high at 19,843, while the daily death toll hit a new record high of 235, causing a wave of concern in Thailand, particularly in Bangkok, the center of the outbreak. Some epidemiologists and virologists forecast the number of new confirmed cases could reach 40,000 per day this month.

 

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Health care workers move a body as a hospital morgue, overwhelmed by COVID-19 deaths, began storing them in refrigerated containers, in Pathum Thani, Thailand, on July 31.   © Reuters

 

Vitoon said the capacity of the GPO is expected to rise, reaching 40 million tablets per month by October. However, that has not eased public fears. Counterfeit Favipiravir is being sold online as desperate COVID patients, isolating themselves at home, seek treatment.

 

Favipiravir, which was originally developed by Fujifilm Holdings subsidiary Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, has not yet been approved by Japan's health ministry for the treatment of COVID-19. In December, the ministry said it needed to see more data to evaluate its efficacy. In response, Fujifilm launched a new clinical trial in April.

 

Toyama Chemical developed Favipiravir in the late 1990s. The drug was approved in 2014 to treat new or re-emerging influenza infections, but it has not been approved for the treatment of seasonal influenza. One area of concern is birth defects seen in animal tests on the drug.

 

Despite the setbacks, Fujifilm sold 1.6 million Avigan tablets for the financial year ended in March. The Japanese government is stockpiling Avigan and providing it to hospitals as part of an observational study. As of February, hospitals had administered Avigan tablets to nearly 11,000 patients, according to Fujita Health University, which is leading the study.

 

Additional reporting by Wataru Suzuki in Tokyo.

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https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Thailand-GDP-expands-7.5-on-year-in-Q2-but-outlook-is-grim?del_type=10&pub_date=20210816145500&seq_num=2

 

Thailand GDP expands 7.5% on year in Q2, but outlook is grim
COVID delta strain forces Prayuth government to lower forecast

 

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A view of the port of Bangkok: The global economic recovery was a welcome boost to Thailand’s exports in the April-June quarter.    © Reuters
MASAYUKI YUDA, Nikkei staff writerAugust 16, 2021 12:00 JSTUpdated on August 16, 2021 14:39 JST

 

BANGKOK -- Thailand's gross domestic product grew 7.5% year on year during the three months to June, its first expansion in six quarters, Thailand's economic planning agency said on Monday, although the outlook remains grim due to the outbreak of the delta variant.

The economy shrank 2.6% in the first quarter compared with the previous year.

 

The growth largely reflects a rebound from last year's sharp decline. During the entire second quarter, Thailand battled a third wave of the pandemic. But until late June, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's government did not resort to strict lockdown measures, such as banning people from dining at restaurants. That was in contrast to the previous year, when lockdowns were in place from the beginning of the quarter and were gradually lifted over the following months.

 

Private consumption rose 4.6%, jumping from a 0.3% contraction in the first quarter but not enough to make up for a 6.7% slump in the second quarter a year earlier. "The government's economic stimulus measures supported consumption," the agency said.

 

The government has implemented a number of cash handouts to support persons and businesses.

 

The global economic recovery also contributed to Thailand's growth. Exports of goods surged 30.7%, extending the 3.2% growth recorded in the first quarter. Service exports, which include spending by nonresidents such as tourists, continued to slide, shrinking 1.9% even with the base effect.

 

On the production side, manufacturing grew 16.8%, making up for the 14.7% contraction recorded a year earlier and reflecting strong exports of goods. Accommodation and food services climbed 13.2%, while transportation and storage rose 11.6%.

 

On a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, the economy grew 0.4% compared to the previous quarter.

 

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A worker at a construction camp in Bangkok undergoes COVID-19 testing.   © AP

 

However, the outlook for the economy is poor. The third wave of COVID-19 has forced the reimposition of stringent lockdowns in provinces, including a nighttime curfew. This will dampen spending by consumers and foreign tourists.

 

The economic planning agency cut its forecast for this year. It now expects the Thai economy to grow by 0.7-1.2%, down from 1.5% to 2.5% it predicted three months ago. This is the agency's third downward revision.

 

This was in line with those of other public authorities and private institutions. The Bank of Thailand lowered its 2021 growth forecast for Southeast Asia's second-largest economy from 1.8% to 0.7% in a policy statement released after a meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee on Aug. 4. For 2022, the central bank expects 3.7% growth, down from its earlier prediction of 3.9% growth. Some private economists see a higher risk of contraction.

 

"Thailand's economy has not yet entered a recession," said Danucha Pichayanan, the agency's secretary-general. "But there is declining growth momentum since April due to the widespread outbreaks."

 

The agency's forecast was based on the condition that the country's outbreaks of the delta strain would be controlled by the third quarter to the level where economic activities could gradually resume in the fourth quarter.

 

Yet, Danucha implied that there were considerable risks to the contrary. "This is a crisis caused by an epidemic with high uncertainty, unlike in 1997, which was a financial crisis," he said.

 

Thailand's economy shrank 6.1% in 2020, the largest yearly dip since 1998 during the Asian financial crisis.

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https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Transportation/Thai-Airways-posts-first-profit-in-pandemic-thanks-to-restructure?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20210816190000&seq_num=18&si=44594

 

Thai Airways posts first profit in pandemic thanks to restructure
But slow recovery in passenger demand clouds path to rehabilitation

 

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The delta variant outbreaks in Southeast Asia including Thailand throw a pall over the company's hopes for a recovery in travel.   © Reuters
MASAYUKI YUDA, Nikkei staff writerAugust 16, 2021 17:40 JST

 

BANGKOK -- Thai Airways International reported a net profit in the first half of 2021, its first since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, thanks to a restructure of its business as part of a rehabilitation plan, although uncertainty still clouds its passenger flight services.

 

Thai Airways posted on Monday a consolidated net profit of 11.1 billion baht ($333 million), reversing a 28 billion baht loss it recorded in the same period in the last year. This was due to contributions to its bottom line from selling off assets and adjusting employees' benefits.

 

As of June, the shareholder equity of the airline improved marginally to minus 116.4 billion baht from minus 128.6 billion baht. Its total assets declined by 19%, while liabilities were reduced by 16%. Although its earnings have improved, its weak financial position could still hamper the ability of the airline to make swift investment decisions that will help it to sustain profitability.

 

The Stock Exchange of Thailand will exclude Thai Airways from its main SET index from Aug. 18, as the trading of the airline's shares has been suspended for more than three months. The airline fell within the criteria for delisting by the bourse due to reporting negative shareholder equity in its annual results.

 

SET President Pakorn Peetathawatchai, however, told Nikkei Asia in an exclusive interview in June that he would not choose to delist the national flag carrier as long as it stays on its rehabilitation course. Keeping it a listed entity would help the airline to operate in a transparent manner as it would have to report on its progress, he said.

 

The airline is under court-supervised rehabilitation. On June 15, a Thai court formally approved the airline's rehab plan, clearing all legal hurdles to set the plan in motion.

 

The company recorded an 8.6 billion baht profit from debt restructuring. The court's approval of the plan allowed the airline to extend the deadlines for the repayment of loans and debentures. Penalties for missing repayments from May to December 2020 were exempted and recorded as an extraordinary gain in the first half.

 

The airline also recorded a profit of 8.3 billion baht from adjusting employee benefits. Various welfare programs were reexamined and executive positions were reduced in the rehabilitation process.

 

In addition, a profit of 2 billion baht was booked from selling off its assets. Thai Airways raised most of it from selling off its 15.5% stake in Bangkok Aviation Fuel Services to energy company Ratch Group. It also earned 95 million baht from selling the shares of budget carrier Nok Air in the secondary market.

 

Some impairment losses recorded in the past for its fleet were reversed by 18.4 billion baht.

 

Large severance payments, however, weighed on its earnings. As a part of its rehabilitation, Thai Airways halved its head count from pre-COVID levels to streamline its reorganization and make it profitable. Its early retirement program, named "Mutual Separation Plan," cost the company 4.8 billion baht during the first half. Other severance pay amounted to 613 million baht.

 

Regular flight operations remained subdued, nonetheless. Revenue from passengers and excess baggage was 1.8 billion baht, down 94% from the same period in the previous year. Freight and mail revenue fell 24% to 3.8 billion baht over the same period.

 

COVID-19 continues to plague the travel industry worldwide and domestically. Thailand, which depends heavily on tourism, started to open up Phuket to vaccinated touristsin July.

 

The country aims to allow tourists to move freely by mid-October. If all goes as planned, the opening up will help Thai Airways. However, the delta variant outbreaks in Southeast Asia including Thailand throw a pall over its hopes for stronger flight demand.

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Bastards implementing longer lockdowns that don't seem to work looking at the numbers.

 

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Coronavirus/Thailand-extends-lockdown-for-a-fortnight-as-COVID-19-rages?utm_campaign=GL_coronavirus_latest&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=10&pub_date=20210817150000&seq_num=11&si=44594

 

Thailand extends lockdown for a fortnight as COVID-19 rages
Maximum restrictions, curfew remain around Bangkok as pandemic center

 

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Medical personnel prepare to administer COVID-19 tests at a camp for construction workers  in Bangkok.    © AP

APORNRATH PHOONPHONGPHIPHAT, Nikkei staff writerAugust 16, 2021 20:49 JST

 

BANGKOK --The Thai government has extended lockdown measures for two more weeks in order to try and bring a severe third wave of COVID-19 under control as confirmed new cases continue to surge.

 

Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesperson for the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), told reporters on Aug. 16 that the government had decided to extend the lockdown and nighttime curfew, which was due to end on Aug 18, until Aug 31.

 

Taweesilp said bank branches inside department stores would be allowed to open, but  electronics shops, restaurants, IT and mobile shops would remain closed. He said the CCSA considered that many of services provided by these outlets can be handled smoothly enough online without exposing people to the risk of infection. 

 

Maximum restrictions and a nightly curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 p.m. are being applied in a dark-red zone of 29 central provinces, including Bangkok. The area is home to around 40% of the population, and generates three-quarters of Thailand's gross domestic product.

 

COVID-19 cases began to surge in a third much more serious wave after Songkran, the lunar new year holiday, in mid-April. The number of daily confirmed cases shot up from 965 cases on April 13 to a record 23,418 on Aug. 13, and daily cases are expected to remain above 20,000 for some time.

 

As of Aug 16, Thailand had confirmed 928,314 COVID-19 cases in total with 7,734 deaths.

 

The CCSA is continuing to test in affected communities, particularly in Bangkok and its environs. It has also required companies with more than 50 employees to create their own isolation wards in order to reduce demand for beds in public and field hospitals. 

 

Following the lockdown, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council has revised the economic outlook for 2021. It is now forecasting 0.7-1.2% growth, down from the 1.5% to 2.5% predicted three months ago. This is the NESDC's third downward revision.

Edited by Yamato
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Thailand is a larger country and richer, and how Thais will say more "hiso" country compared to Bhutan. Thailand is also a manufacturer of vaccine. So when Thailand has to beg for vaccines from the world and borrow vaccines from Bhutan you know how fucked up this country had become under Prayut and his cronies. This is beyond embarrassment it's shameful. So sad for the Thais. 


https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/short-vaccines-thailand-seeks-borrow-bhutan-2021-08-16/

 

Short on vaccines, Thailand seeks to borrow from Bhutan

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People queue at the Central Vaccination Center as Thailand opens walk-in for first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccination scheme for elders, people with a minimum weight of 100 kilograms and pregnant women amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Bangkok, Thailand, July 26, 2021. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File Photo

 

BANGKOK, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Thailand, a regional manufacturer of AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) coronavirus shots, is seeking to borrow 150,000 doses of the same vaccine from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, an official said on Monday, amid a Thai supply shortage.

 

Thailand has been racing to boost its stocks after being hit by its worst wave of coronavirus infections, just two months before it started its mass immunisation drive in June.

 

The request to tap vaccines from Bhutan, a country of less than 1 million people, reflects efforts to plug gaps in Thailand's chaotic vaccine rollout, after AstraZeneca said it could supply the country with about five to six million monthly doses, about half of what the government had targeted.

 

Thailand produces AstraZeneca's vaccine for regional distribution but has managed to fully inoculate just 7.1% of its population so far, with new daily infections projected to double next month.

 

By contrast, Bhutan started its vaccinations in March and has administered over 1 million doses, a number sufficient to have immunised about two-thirds of its population. It has recorded less than 3,000 cases and just three deaths.

 

"The vaccine swap arrangement between Bhutan and Thailand ... is on basis that Thailand will send back vaccines to Bhutan later on," said Natapanu Nopakun, a foreign ministry spokesperson.

 

"At the moment, the agreement is being reviewed and considered by the government."

Bhutan's embassy in Bangkok did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

 

Thailand reported 21,157 new infections on Monday bringing the total to 928,314. There were 182 new deaths, among 7,734 fatalities overall.
 

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Martin Petty

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https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Thailand-s-COVID-crisis-exposes-the-reality-of-2-unemployment?utm_campaign=GL_asia_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NA_newsletter&utm_content=article_link&del_type=1&pub_date=20210817190000&seq_num=2&si=44594

 

https%253A%252F%252Fs3-ap-northeast-1.am

 

Thailand's COVID crisis exposes the reality of '2% unemployment'
Official figure masks increasing woes that could add to premier's headaches
MASAYUKI YUDA, Nikkei staff writerAugust 17, 2021 06:00 JST

 

BANGKOK -- Wanchalerm Noomuean yearns for the days he was known on Phuket as tour guide Jimmy, and every month showed hundreds of international visitors around the famous Thai island.

 

COVID-19 wiped out the 31-year-old's job 15 months ago. While Jimmy remained on Phuket and the Thai government in July started allowing inoculated international visitors onto the island, their numbers are tiny and there is no demand for tour guides. The outlook for Jimmy getting back a job he loved isn't good.

 

"I forgot how to speak English already," he said, smiling wanly. To pay his bills, Jimmy sold off some jewelry and a car. He ekes out an income by occasionally cooking and selling pad thai noodles at the garage of a tenement he rents.

 

Jimmy is part of Thailand's growing ranks of unemployed or barely employed, though he wouldn't be counted in the official statistics on the jobless total because Thailand -- using International Labor Organization guidelines -- doesn't consider as unemployed a person who works at least one hour a week.

 

Also, more than half of the roughly 38 million in the Thai workforce, are in the informal sector and aren't included in jobless data. These factors help keep Thailand's official unemployment rate low -- seemingly unproblematic -- compared with regional peers and developed countries.

 

https%253A%252F%252Fs3-ap-northeast-1.am
Although Thailand in July begin to let inoculated foreign tourists into Phuket, the number arriving is small and business remains poor.   © AP

 

But the low Thai unemployment rate masks a number of problems impacting the country's workforce, which has been badly hurt by COVID-19, and could create political headaches for the government, which is struggling to contain the raging coronavirus.

 

The latest published Thai unemployment rate, covering 2021's first quarter and announced in May, was 1.96%, a 12-year high. Danucha Pichayanan, secretary-general of the national economic planning agency, known as NESDC, described that rate was "drastically" higher than previous levels. (The rate was 1.03% in the first three months of 2020, when COVID-19 began to hammer the world, and 1.86% for the last quarter of 2020.)

 

In May, the official unemployment rate was 3.8% in Singapore, 3.0% in Japan, 5.8 % in the United States and 7.7% in the Philippines.

 

Danucha said the Thai rate is "expected to rise again," and that is a certainty, given how COVID-19 case numbers (and deaths) have shot up in Thailand since May, with outbreaks of the delta variant. Daily confirmed cases reached 15,000 on average in the past few weeks.

 

Even if the unemployment figure remained low by world standards, it's a worry.

 

"For us, 2% unemployment rate is a crisis," said Tanit Sorat, vice chairman at the Employers' Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry (ECOTHAI).

 

https%253A%252F%252Fs3-ap-northeast-1.am

 

According to data from a telecom operator, 1.6 million people moved out from big cities and popular tourist areas and relocated to their hometowns between December 2019 and April 2021.

 

Traditionally, going back to rural areas has been a safety valve for when jobs in Bangkok and other cities have been lost. "Being able to easily enter agricultural sector and other self-employed jobs helps to quickly absorb unemployed labor form other economic sectors," said the Bank of Thailand in its response to Nikkei Asia's written query.

 

But the number leaving urban areas in the time of COVID-19 woes has been too large to comfortably handle. "The inflow of people is too overwhelming for the rural areas to absorb," said Piyabutr Cholvjarn, president of Kenan Foundation Asia, a nonprofit community development organization.

 

COVID-19 has exposed how Thailand had become over-reliant on tourism, which has accounted for about 12% of gross domestic product, for creating jobs and economic growth

 

An example of the people moving away from tourist spots because of complete loss of business is Rodjana Kachachai, who had operated a T-shirt shop at Bangkok's Chatuchak weekend market. "My shop depended a lot on foreign clients. Now I cannot earn a single penny from selling T-shirts," said the 47-year-old.

 

Rodjana returned to her hometown of Suphanburi, 100 kilometers northwest of Bangkok. She now runs an organic vegetable farm, which has sales of around 6,000 to 9,000 baht ($180 to $270) per month -- a fraction of the 40,000 baht the T-shirt shop generated.

 

https%253A%252F%252Fs3-ap-northeast-1.am
With hundreds of bars shut, Pattaya has changed from party town to ghost town.   © Getty Images

 

Another economic victim of COVID-19 is Nithi, a cocktail waitress at Bar Beer, a Thai-style open-air pub, in the beach town of Pattaya on the Gulf of Thailand. The government saw bars as hotbeds of coronavirus infection, and ordered them to close every time the country faced a rise in cases. Pattaya has gone from party town to ghost town.

 

"Every pub had several girls to entertain customers, but they all vanished," said the 28-year-old Nithi, who declined to give her last name. She said she gets some income from on-selling goods bought on internet shopping sites, but adds that she gets financial support from a British boyfriend.

 

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's government, which has been criticized for its response to COVID-19, has provided some aid to those hit hard by the pandemic. This has mainly entailed short-term measures such as cash payments and soft loan facilities for small and medium-sized enterprises.

 

People in the informal sector were given 5,000 baht ($150) per month from April to June, 2020. Taxi drivers, taxi motorcyclists, and street vendors, who have small earnings, were given 3,500 baht for January and February 2021 in another program. They had to go through a complicated process to apply for the programs. Payments were often delayed. Rodjana said she received "very little" support money, "but better than nothing."

 

On top of short-term issues faced by the unemployed, there are also long-term ones that existed well before the pandemic brought hardship for many people.

 

"The unreliable labor statistics and seemingly low unemployment rate continuously failed to (raise an) alert about the country's labor issues to draw correct policy responses," said Yongyuth Chalamwong, research director for human resource policies at the independent Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).

 

Among the issues not tackled by a series of Thai governments are improving laws for protecting workers and revamping Thailand's education system, which is not teaching the skills workers will need in the digital economy that's being rapidly expanded in the wake of COVID-19. These are long-term problems, and recent Thai governments -- some set up after military coups -- have often focused on short-term issues such as remaining in power.

 

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The country set up a digital transformation initiative named Thailand 4.0, but lacks skilled labor to push the program forward. Public and private sector both failed to fully implement meritocratic value in hiring or paying labor in nepotistic Thai society, discouraging potential workers from enthusiastically learning new skills. "Thai children tend to resort to study easy subjects," Tanit of ECOTHAI lamented.

 

The Bank of Thailand warned that the pandemic might blunt workers' skills. "The COVID-19 will affect work format in the future, and will require labor with new and diverse skills," the central bank said.

 

Some skilled workers were forced to engage in low-productivity jobs, which may not be in line with their original skills. There is also a tendency for fresh college graduate to stay without jobs for a longer period of time, risking their skills and education to go outdated.

 

Meanwhile, wealth inequality only grew in the kingdom amid the COVID-19 crisis. The World Bank estimated that 7.4% of Thailand's population lived on less than $5.50 a day in 2020, an increase of 1.2 percentage points from the previous year. According to a report from Forbes in July, the aggregated assets of the kingdom's 50 richest families rose by more than 20% to $160 billion since such wealth was last measured 15 months earlier.

 

The total cases found in the country since the dawn of the pandemic doubled in July. The government once again had to implement lockdown measures and a nighttime curfew in affected provinces including Bangkok, causing more businesses to close permanently. The measures were extended until the end of August.

 

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Prime Minister Prayuth, the target of protests, speaks at a Feb. 4 press conference. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

 

Under Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's initiative, Southeast Asia's second largest economy seeks to fully reopen its borders to vaccinated international visitors from October in order to revive tourism and related businesses. But delay in containing the third wave would adversely affect foreigners' appetite to visit the kingdom. All of these are risk factors that could further drive up the unemployment rate.

 

If that happens, that could affect political developments. Yongyuth of TDRI says that in the past few decades, major crises involving labor have "tended to be followed by changes of government."

 

If many more jobs are lost, that could cause young people without prospects to go back in the streets, as they did in parts of 2019 and 2020 in a youth-led anti-establishment movement that called for Prayuth, the longest serving prime minister since the 1980s, to step down. The movement was subdued after measures were taken to silence it, such as use of the lese majeste law. But more people, and industry groups have openly criticized Prayuth administration's handling of the COVID-19 and economic situation. Rallies are gradually gathering steam again.

 

"I don't think lives of ordinary Thais improved in the seven years since the 2014 coup," said a job seeker nicknamed Ida. She has not been able to secure a stable job since graduating from college in 2019. Last week, resentment with the status quo drove the 25-year-old to attend her first anti-establishment rally calling for Prayuth's resignation. "We will not wait for two more years," said Ida. "But if we have to, I think Thais know what to do in the 2023 general elections."

 

Additional reporting by Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat in Bangkok.

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