Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha flew into Pattaya to boost morale after Banglamung District again went into lockdown but said little to bring hope to those crushed by the second coronavirus shutdown.
Accompanied by Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda and Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, Prayut arrived via helicopter Dec. 30 at Bali Hai Pier and was welcomed by Chonburi Gov. Pakarathorn Thienchai and Pattaya Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome.
Together they visited the quarantine center at the Grand Bella, with the PM waving the two-fingered “victory” gesture to people as he passed.
Dr. Apirat Katanyatanon of the Chonburi Public Health Department briefed the premier on the current outbreak. As of Wednesday, Chonburi had reported 144 coronavirus cases, nearly all connected to an underground Rayong casino and an infected cluster of illegal gamblers.
Of those, 108 were found in Pattaya and Banglamung.
Apirat noted that Chonburi had been free of any locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 243 days and had just 87 cases, with two fatalities, during Thailand’s “first wave” of Covid-19.
Since then, the province has been a major provider of state quarantine facilities, housing 40,000 overseas returnees, of which 491 tested positive for Covid-19.
Prayut pledged to crack down on illegal casinos and corruption, but offered little else to soothe the anxiety all of Pattaya is feeling. He offered no timeline for how long the lockdown order would last, saying only it was necessary to control the spread of the virus.
The prime minister told the public to stay strong, work together and follow the CCSA’s safety protocols to beat back the new wave of infections as Thailand will not begin coronavirus vaccinations until the middle of the next year and, as of now, has ordered only enough doses to cover 18 percent of the population.