The Royal Thai Navy and government officials distributed face masks to people worried about the coronavirus.
Vice Adm. Thani Kaewkao, director-general of the Naval Civil Affairs Department, and representatives from the ministries of Interior and Public Health and the Chonburi Provincial Administration Organization walked through the community passing out 500 hygiene masks.
The public-relations move was aimed at offsetting community opposition to quarantining at the Sattahip Naval Base 77 Thais who returned from virus-hit countries. Six other foreign-exchange students who returned from Italy were suspected of having contracted Covid-19 and have been hospitalized.
Experts around the world have said face masks are nearly useless in preventing healthy people from contracting the disease and even Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said March 16 that only sick people should wear them.
Thailand faces a shortage of masks and authorities said healthy people hoarding and using masks makes it more difficult for medical professionals and the sick who need them to obtain them.
However, peer pressure among Thais for everyone to wear face masks is intense, with even Thailand’s controversial public health minister joining in.