Air quality has fallen below safe standards in most areas of Bangkok, the Environment Department of the city administration said on Sunday.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) reported on Sunday at 7am that the PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter) 24-hour average dust index was found to have exceeded the safe standard in 57 areas.
Measured in the range of 39-76 micrograms/cubic metre (mcg/m3) the 24-hour standard value should not exceed 50mcg/m3.
Air quality in Bangkok averaged at 58.8mcg/m3.
Most of the air quality ranged from moderate to unhealthy.
The general public in areas with excess air pollution should monitor their health. If there are initial symptoms such as cough, difficulty in breathing or eye irritation, the duration of outdoor activities should be shortened, especially for the elderly, children and respiratory patients, and protective equipment must be used if necessary, the BMA said.
Another rather strong high-pressure system from China covers upper Vietnam and will extend to upper Thailand by Sunday, bringing colder conditions and strong winds.
Temperatures are likely to fall by 4-6 degrees Celsius, the Thailand Meteorological Department said.
Meanwhile, a strong northeast monsoon prevails over the Gulf and the South. Strong winds and waves are likely in the Gulf of Thailand, rising 2-3 metres in the lower Gulf. All ships in the Gulf of Thailand should proceed with caution and small boats in the lower Gulf should keep ashore from January 17-20, the department said.
The weather forecast for different regions of the country:
North: Cool to cold with strong winds, and 2-3°C drop in temperature; minimum temperature 12-17°C, maximum 28-33°C; cold to very cold on mountaintops with minimum temperature 5-12°C; northeasterly winds 10-30kph.
Northeast: Cool to cold with strong winds, 4-6°C drop in temperature; minimum temperature 15-18°C, maximum 28-31°C; cold to very cold on mountaintops with minimum temperature 6-13°C; northeasterly winds 15-30kph.
Central: Cool with strong winds with 2-3°C drop in temperature; minimum temperature 17-20°C, maximum 32-34°C; northeasterly winds 10-30kph.
East: Cool with strong winds, 2-3°C drop in temperature; minimum temperature 18-22°C, maximum 32-33°C; northeasterly winds 15-35 kph; waves 1- 2 metres high and about two metres offshore.
South (east coast):
Surat Thani northwards: Cool morning with strong winds; northeasterly winds 20-35kph; waves about two metres high.
Nakhon Si Thammarat southwards: Isolated rain mostly in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat provinces; northeasterly winds 20-40kph; waves 2-3 metres high; minimum temperature 20-25°C, maximum 30-32°C.
South (west coast): Partly cloudy with isolated rain mostly in Trang and Satun provinces; minimum temperature 23-26°C, maximum 32-34°C; northeasterly winds 15-35kph; waves 1-2 metres high and about two metres offshore.
Bangkok: Cool with strong winds, 2-3°C drop in temperature, minimum temperature 21-22°C, maximum 32-34°C; northeasterly winds 10-30kph.
A girl aged 11, who had allegedly been raped by her grandfather, died in her mother’s embrace on Friday, after suffering from severe morning sickness.
The funeral of the girl was held at her house in Sahatsakhan district of Kalasin province. The body was earlier taken to Srinagarind Hospital in Khon Kaen for medical examination.
The mother, 33, said that she had divorced from the girl’s father for five years, and acknowledged later that the daughter had been raped by her grandfather.
The mother also mentioned that she had taken her daughter to a hospital in December, and a doctor there had confirmed the girl had an ectopic pregnancy. The girl vomited both food and medicine, she added.
According to the mother, on Friday night her daughter vomited and trembled with pain and eventually died in her embrace.
Meanwhile, Sahatsakhan police have collected evidence in the girl’s case, and they will soon seek an arrest warrant from the local court.
The Bank of Thailand (BOT) on Friday said that the impact on the economy from the second Covid-19 outbreak was milder than from the first outbreak at the beginning of 2020.
BOT senior director Chayawadee Chaianant said that the second outbreak was less severe compared to the first one, while medical preparations were better than before.
She added that government measures implemented at present were less stringent than in the last year, as a result exports were still expanding.
The BOT added that the red provinces were areas where the Covid-19 outbreak had hit the highest level. The impacted persons in the areas were mostly daily wage workers, whose working hours have been reduced from the new virus crisis.
To deal with the virus’ effects, Chayawadee said business operators and their workers must be helped at the earliest. Focus must be on people in the fragile group.
Two leaders of the pro-democracy group Guard Plod Aek were arrested on Saturday afternoon at Victory Monument in Bangkok’s Ratchathewi district.
The group held a gathering at the monument to write criticisms of the premier on a 112-metre-long banner.
The arrested protesters were reportedly taken to Phya Thai Police Station and charged with violating the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations and the Communicable Disease Act, before being sent to Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters in Pathum Thani province. Other participants dispersed from the area after the arrests.
The gathering on Saturday was organised for protesters to write their opinions on a long fabric banner about Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s failures in handling crisis situations, as well as urging the abolition of lese majeste law, also known as Article 112, as symbolised by the 112-metre long banner.
Lese majeste has been an offence under Thailand’s Criminal Code since 1956. Article 112 of the code states: “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent shall be punished with imprisonment of three to 15 years.”
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is converting the Bangkhuntian Geriatric Hospital into a field hospital for Covid-19 treatment and quarantine centre with a 509-bed capacity.
BMA permanent secretary Silapasuai Rawisaengsun said on Friday that the hospital in Tha Kham subdistrict of Bangkhuntian district is now functioning as a Covid-19 treatment and quarantine facility to cope with the new wave of Covid-19 that has been reported since last December.
“With each bed placed more than 1.5 metres apart, the six-storey hospital can accommodate 509 patients simultaneously,” she said.
“The patient quarter is at least eight metres away from community area to ensure public safety.
“The hospital has 10 restrooms, six shower rooms, a cafeteria, a conference room and separate staff station. It also provides Wi-Fi signal throughout the area to allow patients to communicate with staff. The hospital communal areas are also monitored 24/7 via CCTV cameras,” she added.
The BMA permanent secretary added that the hospital uses an air handling unit to manage the ventilation system to ensure staff and patients’ safety, while the exhaust air from the hospital was released via vents positioned at least eight metres away from community areas. “Furthermore, all the waste from the hospital will be treated as infectious waste under public health standards,” she added.
From December 20 to January 14, Bangkok reported 526 cases of Covid-19, 396 are local residents while 130 have travelled from other provinces. Most of the confirmed patients are linked to the outbreak in Samut Sakhon, Rayong and Nonthaburi provinces.
The global Covid-19 situation has driven up demand for canned food and tuna, but deliveries by Thai exporters are affected by a shortage of containers, industry experts said.
Chanin Chalisaraphong, president of Thai Tuna Industry Association said that Thai export of tuna in 2020 is expected to net Bt80 billion, increasing from Bt77 billion in 2019.
“This year we estimate that tuna exports will expand by at least 5 per cent, as orders are now pouring in for delivery within the first quarter of 2021,” he said. “The biggest problem exporters are facing right now is inadequate supply of containers, as over a thousand containers are still stuck in the United States and Europe due to Covid-19 restrictions. Containers that came back on time are being sent to China.
“The association is urging the ministries of Commerce and Transport to coordinate with foreign authorities to send back our containers as soon as possible,” he added.
Meanwhile, Korakot Kittiphol, deputy director of foreign markets at Thai Hua Rubber Pcl, has added that since December the company has received increasing orders from China who require rubber for manufacturing tyres and rubber gloves.
“We must deliver the rubber within the next few months but currently we do not have enough containers,” he said. “Furthermore, the freight fee has increased to the highest in 15 years, from last year’s rate of $20-$50 per 20-foot container to $600-$800 per container.”
Boonchai Srichaiyongpanich, president of the Thai Tapioca Trade Association, has said that China is currently ordering tapioca chips at 300,000 tonnes per month, compared to 80,000-90,000 tonnes per month during the same period in 2020. “China switched to using tapioca chip as the main ingredient in alcohol manufacturing after local corn price rose sharply,” he said. “We expect that total export of tapioca this year will reach 4-5 million tonnes, increasing from last year’s total of only 3 million tonnes.”
Not all exports enjoy higher orders, however. The honorary president of Thai Rice Exporters Association, Chukiat Opaswong, has said the orders for delivery in first quarter of 2021 are still at the same level as last year. “This is due to the strengthening of the baht that has made Thai rice more expensive than competitors,” he said. “We estimate that total rice exports this year will be 6.5 million tonnes, increasing from last year’s total of 5.8 million tonnes, which was the lowest in the past 20 years.”
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) reported 230 new cases and one death on Saturday.The new cases consisted of 83 domestic cases, 126 cases from active search operation, and 21 patients in quarantine.The 83 domestic cases included 55 cases in Samut Sakhon, 12 in Bangkok, six in Ang Thong, five in Chonburi, two in Khon Kaen, and one case each in Chanthaburi, Chaiyaphum and Pathum Thani provinces.
Of the 126 cases,110 were found in Samut Sakhon, five in Chonburi, four in Rayong, three in Pathum Thai, two in Samut Prakan and one each in Chachoengsao and Chanthaburi provinces. Most of these patients were foreign workers.
The infected travellers from overseas consisted of seven from the UK, six from Turkey, three from Germany and one each from Qatar, Ethiopia, Russia, the US and Malaysia.
CCSA spokesperson Taweesin Visanuyothin informed that total patients this week (as of Saturday) were 1,627, down from 2,674 last week.
Regarding the clusters in Thailand, Taweesin said they were from gambling dens in eastern provinces, entertainment venues in Bangkok, a cockfight ring in Ang Thong, and Samut Sakhon’s shrimp market.
As of January 13, total new patients from each cluster showed a decrease, especially those related to gambling dens.
The total number of confirmed cases in Thailand has risen to 11,680 – 9,413 of which were contracted domestically, including 3,386 found via proactive testing, and 2,267 returnees. So far, 8,906 have recovered and been discharged, 2,704 patients are still in hospital and the death toll has increased to 70.
Taweesin explained that the 70 fatality was a man in Bangkok, who died on January 14. He had visited an entertainment venue two times in December.
According to Worldometer, as of midnight on Friday, the total number of confirmed cases globally had risen to 94.3 million (up by 761,554), 67.34 million have recovered, 26.96 million are active cases (111,481 in severe condition) and 2 million have died (up by 14,816).
Thailand ranks 127th on the global list of most cases, while the US tops the list with 24.1 million, followed by India 10.54 million, Brazil 8.39 million, Russia 3.52 million and the United Kingdom 3.31 million.
Officials from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division on Friday raided a slaughterhouse in Khon Kaen province for alleged illegal sale of horse meat.
The raid in Waeng Yai district followed a tip-off from Watchdog Thailand Foundation which had informed officials about illegal sale of horses to a slaughterhouse in Nakhon Ratchasima-Khon Kaen areas for export to Vietnam and China.
Police had earlier arrested Kanyarat (last name withheld), aged 44 years, a Khon Kaen local who operates a horse stable in Waeng Yai. Kanyarat reportedly confessed that she had sold 23 horses to a nearby slaughterhouse. Officials then investigated the slaughterhouse and found 44 horses which were about to be slaughtered. The animals had no proper registration with the provincial veterinary office.
The slaughterhouse owner reportedly said that he planned to sell the horse meat at Bt100 per kilogram to a middleman, who would later export it to buyers in Vietnam and China via natural channels.
Police are gathering evidence to track down the horse meat export operation.
Kanyarat was slapped with three charges: Failing to register animals with the provincial veterinary office, selling animals without permission and moving animals to an outbreak control area.