Wednesday July 1, 2020


As a foreigner living in Bangkok, I got alarmed when the news on novel coronavirus outbreak has reached Thailand. A novel coronavirus is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans nor have not previously detected until the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Recently, World Health Organization (WHO) announced “Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” as its official name.

In mid-January, the first case in Bangkok and also the first ever case outside China was reported. This has caused Bangkok residents to stock up on N95 masks, surgical masks, alcohol and hand sanitizers for prevention and protection. By end of January, Thailand had the most reported cases of patients of COVID-19 outside China. Thankfully, the Thai government is proactive in taking measures to prevent the spread of the said virus. Screenings of passengers arriving in Thailand’s six main airports are closely monitored, and the government’s awareness campaign is also everywhere in coordination with private sectors nationwide. On February 2, doctors from Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok announced that they have seen an effective result of the “cocktail drug” (a combination of an HIV and flu drug) they used to treat a severe-cased patient, with initial results showing a major recovery after 48 hours of applying the treatment. The World Health Organization, on the other hand, has no official confirmation yet on the effectivity of the said “cocktail drug”. Instead, WHO stated that hand washing and the avoidance of touching the face are the most effective methods of reducing one’s risk of contracting the virus.

Although the COVID-19 news added to Bangkokians’daily worries, they are not in a panic mode. Few months back, people are more concerned about the poor air quality here and have been limiting their outdoor activities to avoid getting sick from the smog and air pollution. Daily life in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand at the moment is still running on its usual flow. Except that these days, seeing people wearing a face mask is as normal as wearing sunglasses. Offices, schools, restaurants, shopping malls and even public transportations are now doing their regular sanitation routines and providing hand sanitizers and even face masks to people. Hospitals and the health ministry are also updating and providing vital information on COVID-19. The tourism business though, like some Asian countries, is suffering the negative effects. The usually crowded street markets, temples, hotels and beaches in Thailand are now quieter and less busy. Airline companies and package tour operators have to slash their operations for the meantime as most of their clients are from China. Although as of this writing, there is no travel ban going to and from Thailand.

Personally, I have refrained from running in the park since January because the quality of the air is still bad until now. And with the COVID-19 concern, I am practicing the health ministry’s basic advice: looking after my personal hygiene and maintaining physical wellness by exercising indoors, taking vitamins and eating the right food.

Thailand’s Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health also released this infographic of recommendations to the general public to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.

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