A Public Health Ministry announcement designating Covid-19 as a dangerous communicable disease will take effect on Sunday, giving authorities more weapons to combat the spread of the virus.
The latest victim is a 21-year-old Thai salesman whose job brought him exposure to foreign tourists, said Sukhum Kanchanaphimai, the ministry’s permanent secretary. The country has not yet had a death from the virus, although 28 patients have recovered and 14 are being treated in hospital. The “dangerous communicable disease” announcement, signed by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, is based on provisions in Sections 5 and 6 of the Communicable Disease Act. It was published in the Royal Gazette on Saturday.
The announcement empowers officials to order people suspected of being infected with Covid-19 to undergo treatment and put them in quarantine, and to close venues affected by the coronavirus, among other measures. The ministry also announced plans to begin handing out free face masks on Monday, with 100,000 pieces a day, or a maximum of three per person, available. They will be distributed at the ministry compound in Nonthaburi.
The vendor admitted selling masks at 100 baht for a package of five, but said the cost price was high and she cold not sell them for any less. Face masks and hand-sanitising gel were categorised as price-controlled goods after demand skyrocketed in recent weeks. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has posted a message on his Facebook page saying that the ministry will start handing out 100,000 face masks a day on Monday.