The Thailand Meteorological Department on Sunday (January 23) that the westerly trough moves from the Northeast of Thailand to cover Laos while the southerly and the southeasterly winds prevail across the lower Northeast and the East regions with less rain and isolated thundershowers in the Northeast and the East.
People in the area should beware of the severe condition by keeping off outdoor places, big trees and unsecured billboards. Farmers should prevent for crop damage.
Meanwhile, the weak high-pressure system covers the upper North and the Northeast of Thailand and The South China Sea, and the upper westerly winds prevail over upper Thailand. Cool to cold is forecast in the North and cool in the morning is forecast in the Northeast, the Central and the East regions.
On mountaintops of the North and the Northeast, cold to very cold is forecast. The minimum temperature of the North mountaintops is in range of 3-10 °C while the Northeast ranges by 10-15 °C.
The weak northeast monsoon prevails over the Gulf and the South with isolated thundershowers.
The 24-hour weather forecast for different regions:
North: Cool to cold and 1-2 °C drop in temperature. Isolated light rains; temperature lows of 13-20 °C and highs of 28-34 °C; temperature on hilltops is likely to drop to 3-10 °C.
Northeast: Cool in the morning and 1-2 °C drop in temperature. Isolated thundershowers; temperature lows of 18-21 °C and highs of 26-32 °C; temperature on hilltops is likely to drop to 10-15 °C.
Central: Cool with fog in the morning and slight drop in temperature; temperature lows of 21-22 °C and highs of 31-33 °C.
East: Cool in the morning and slight drop in temperature. Isolated thundershowers; temperature lows of 20-25 °C, highs of 29-33 °C; waves below 1 metre high and about 1 metre offshore.
South (east coast): Cool in the morning. Isolated thundershowers; temperature lows of 21-24 °C, highs of 28-33 °C; waves below 1 metre high and about 1 metre in thundershowers in Surat Thani upwards, while about 1 metre high and above 1 metre in thundershowers in Nakhon Si Thammarat downwards.
South (west coast): Partly cloudy with isolated light rains; temperature lows of 22-25 °C, highs of 32-34 °C; waves below 1 metre high and about 1 metre offshore.
Bangkok and surrounding areas: Partly cloudy and isolated light rains; temperature lows of 22-24 °C and highs of 31-34 °C.
Greater Bangkok and northern provinces will be hit by harmful levels of PM2.5 haze next week, the Centre for Air Pollution Mitigation warned on Saturday.
Light winds and stagnant air from Tuesday to Friday will see levels of the hazardous dust spike in the capital city and satellite provinces, as well as the North, said Pollution Control Department director-general Atthapol Charoenchansa, who heads the centre.
Atthapol said PM2.5 levels would jump in the northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Lampang, Nan and Phrae from Tuesday to Thursday, and Phitsanulok and Phichit from Tuesday to Friday.
Greater Bangkok will see a spike in PM2.5 on Tuesday and Wednesday, he added.
Hourly updates of Thailand’s air quality are available on the websites Air4Thai.com and Bangkokairquality.com, as well as the mobile applications Air4Thai and AirBKK, Atthapol said.
He advised residents to avoid outdoor activities and wear face masks while outdoors during that period.
On Saturday, concentrations of PM2.5 in all areas of the country stayed within the safe threshold of 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air, according to the official.
Omicron will infect Thailand’s populace and boost its immunity before a vaccine for the new Covid-19 variant becomes available, a respiratory specialist said on Saturday.
Dr Manoon Leechawengwongs, a senior doctor specialising in respiratory and pulmonary diseases at Vichaiyut Hospital, said he saw no need for a fourth or fifth booster shot to protect against Omicron despite ongoing development of vaccines against the highly contagious variant.
“Everyone will be already infected with Omicron before the new-generation vaccine is available,” he wrote.
The doctor cited a forecast made by US Food and Drug Administration chief, Dr Janet Woodcock, that all Americans would eventually be infected with Omicron.
For Dr Manoon, higher antibody levels via booster shots do not offer 100 per cent protection against Covid-19 infection, particularly where Omicron is involved.
“It is just a good sign that infections will not lead to serious illness. So, there is less chance of long hospitalisation and death,” he said.
He cited reports of Israeli medics being infected with Omicron despite receiving a fourth shot of Pfizer. However, they suffered only mild or no symptoms at all, he added.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged Thais to avoid unnecessary travel and crowded places during the Chinese New Year festival. The PM urged people to maintain tight anti-Covid measures by social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands when they celebrate the lunar New Year on February 1.
Bangkok is facing an exponential increase in Omicron infections and will likely see a daily caseload of 10,000 by the month’s end “unless the threat is stopped immediately”, an academic has warned.
Dr Sunt Srianthumrong, a lecturer at the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), said on Friday the capital has recorded 821, 1,172 and 1,637 Covid-19 cases over the past three days, respectively, and almost all of them were of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
“We can no longer shut our eyes and say the numbers are okay,” he said in a Facebook post, likening the Omicron outbreak to the Greek legend of the Trojan war.
“Like Troy, the Omicron troops have jumped out of the Trojan horse and are now advancing across the city. They are likely to completely seize the capital in the new few days,” Sunt said.
“I’m sorry but we will definitely be defeated. Our commander ordered a reduction in sentries, wrongly believing the enemies were withdrawing their forces,” the Facebook post read.
Recent records show that the number of cases in Bangkok has doubled every four days, and the graph is “dangerously steep”, Sunt wrote.
“We have to stop this immediately, or Bangkok will see 5,000 [daily] cases next week and 10,000 before the month’s end. The worst-case scenario is 70,000 daily cases per 10-million population, just like Israel.”
He called for immediate action to be taken, including working from home for at least a month, strict social distancing, regular antigen testing and the wearing of masks.
“Stop thinking that Omicron only causes mild symptoms and does not attack the lungs. Covid is now killing 8,000 to 9,000 people a day and most of the cases are Omicron. This means almost 3 million deaths a year — five to 10 times worse than influenza,” he wrote.
Rangers from Loei’s Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary found more than 100 traps placed around a natural well in an area dubbed Dan Chang or elephants’ path in Phu Rua district on the edge of the sanctuary.
“The traps are made from round pieces of wood less than half a metre in width with five or six nails sticking out of each,” Jirachai Akhajak, chief of the Phu Luang Wildlife Research Centre, said on Saturday. “Park officials have picked up around 100 traps since earlier this week. Some of them have evidence of being stepped upon, but so far we have not found any injured wild elephants.
“I suspect farmers nearby may have set these traps to keep wild elephants from ransacking their sugarcane plantations,” he added. “The department has discussed this issue with local farmers on several occasions. We have even advised them to keep bees or grow chilli as elephants hate bees and the smell of chilli and will eventually leave the plantation alone.
“Though most farmers understand the nature of wild animals and agreed to use harmless methods to repel them, some still apparently resort to cruelty and violence,” Jirachai said. “The department has filed a police complaint against the trap setters.”
Phet Manopawit, secretary-general of Green World Foundation, said these traps are inhumane and can kill an elephant.
“When an elephant steps on the trap, the nails will pierce its foot, forcing it to back off and change the course it takes to find food,” he said. “However, since the nails are rusty, the elephant can develop an infection or tetanus and if left untreated, it could die.”
Police officers along with officials from the Livestock Development Department showed up in Samut Sakhon on Friday to check three cold storages. They had received a tip-off that the cold-storage operators may be hoarding pork to make profits from the shortage and soaring prices.
“The first cold storage had notified the Department of Internal Trade that it has 929 tonnes of pork in its possession,” Livestock Development Department director-general Sorawit Thaneeto said. “However, upon inspection, the company claimed it has recently transported 400 tonnes of pork to other cold storages in Nakhon Pathom and Ratchaburi, and that it has yet to submit documents detailing the transfer.
“Officials also found 234 tonnes of pork that was not shown in the manifest. The company explained that another firm in Ratchaburi had rented its cold storage to store meat since November last year,” he added.
“Further inspection of the company’s documents showed that it had no evidence of origin and transportation of 71 tonnes of pork in its possession. Hence, this amount will be confiscated and the company has until Saturday to present the related documents to take the pork back.”
The second cold storage in Samut Sakhon inspected on Friday had reportedly submitted documents for the storage of 283 tonnes of slaughtered pigs, but there were no animal carcasses in the facility. The company said the carcasses had been moved to another cold storage in the province, where officials found 441 tonnes of pig carcasses with evidence that 283 tonnes belong to one company and 158 tonnes to another.
“Neither company has submitted documents detailing the movement of the animal carcasses to the Livestock Development Department or notified the Department of Internal Trade of the pork being stored,” Sorawit said. “Officials have confiscated the 441 tonnes of pork and will return them if they can present the required documents by Saturday.
“Officials will continue inspecting cold storages for possible hoarding of pork. So far, we have received tip-offs about suspicious activities in up to 25 facilities, 11 of which are in Samut Sakhon,” he added.
According to the law, those who possess more than 500 live pigs or 5 tonnes of pig carcasses must notify relevant authorities of the origin, movement and intention of storage or they will face a maximum punishment of a year in prison and/or a fine of THB20,000.
The exhibition, “Hua Lamphong in Your Eyes”, documenting the 106 years of Bangkok’s iconic railway station, wrapped up on January 16 but left a lasting impression on people, especially the younger generation.
The photographs on display included one of King Rama V launching the first train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya on March 26, 1896, which is now marked as the founding day of Thailand’s railway system. There were also photographs capturing the changes Hua Lamphong’s interior and exterior have seen over the century.
The 17 KiHA 183 diesel trains donated to Thailand by Japan’s Hokkaido Railway Company are being modified so they can run on local tracks, while four trains are expected to start running by mid-2022.
“Japanese diesel trains use 1.067 metre wide axels, while the Thai railway is 1 metre wide,” State Railway of Thailand (SRT)’s Public Relations Centre director Ekarat Sriarayanphong said on Friday. “We began modifying the trains as soon as they arrived in December last year and now they can run on our tracks. The next step is repainting them at the Makkasan train depot.”
Ekarat added that once the trains are repainted, SRT will make adjustments to other systems such as the engine, transmission system, air conditioning and passenger seats, so they meet Thai conditions.
“Modifications will be carried out on four trains at a time, with the first lot set to be completed by mid-2022. These trains will run for short distances to Ayutthaya and Chachoengsao to promote domestic tourism,” he said.
KiHA 183 diesel trains have a maximum speed of 100 kilometres per hour. Each train has four bogies and can accommodate up to 216 passengers. Once completed, they will be fully airconditioned and include reclining seats and toilets.
Though SRT received these trains for free, it paid a private contractor 42.25 million baht to bring them from Japan to Thailand.
Thailand will remain under Covid-19 alert level 4 because infections are still on a rising trend, the Public Health Ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit said on Friday.
The ministry had raised the country’s Covid-19 alert level to 4 on January 6 when the daily infection rate began surging. Under level 4, all high-risk venues like bars, pubs and karaoke joints will remain closed, while people are required to refrain from travelling or gathering in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
Earlier this week, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul indicated the possibility of lowering the alert level by one point as the situation is “partly under control” with less than 20 deaths per day.
“On Friday, Thailand had 8,640 new Covid-19 infections and 13 deaths. While the death rate is still low, daily infections show an upward trend,” Kiattiphum said. “Currently, 82,720 patients are undergoing treatment, 540 of whom have pneumonia, while 118 patients are on respirators.”
The ministry also reported a total of 289 Covid-19 deaths since January 1. Of the fatalities, 159 were aged over 70 and 58 in the 60-69 age group.
“The ministry is advising people to refrain from travelling upcountry, visiting high-risk venues and engaging in prolonged group activities,” he said. “These rules must be particularly adhered to, especially in highly populated areas like Bangkok and surrounding provinces, as well as ‘blue zone’ provinces that have opened some of their districts to foreign visitors.
“If you come into close contact with a confirmed patient, isolate yourself at home for seven days and monitor your symptoms closely,” Kiattiphum advised. “During this period, take an ATK test on the fifth or sixth day. If the test comes back positive, then call 1330 to register under the ministry’s home-isolation system.
“If the test is negative, complete your seven days of isolation after which you can go outdoors only when necessary,” he added. “Take the test again on day 10, and if the test is still negative then consider the isolation over.”