Indonesian fisherman rescued off Phuket after being adrift without food for nine days

An Indonesian fisherman was safely rescued from the sea, off Thailand’s Phuket Island, after having been adrift without food in his small fishing boat for nine days.

The boat was spotted drifting south of Racha Noi islet, off the Muang district of Phuket, by the crew of a Thai trawler, Boonlarp 2, on Sunday evening. The trawler then took the fisherman aboard, gave him food and water and towed his boat to a fishing pier in Phuket.

Speaking through an interpreter, the unnamed Indonesian said that the engine of his boat broke down as he was fishing in Indonesian waters, leaving him unable to navigate the vessel and letting it be swept by winds and waves further away from the Indonesian shore.

He claimed that he had run out of food many days before he was rescued by the Thai trawler.

He was temporarily held at an immigration checkpoint, for COVID-19 screening, before being sent to the Vachira Phuket Hospital for treatment. The Indonesian consular office was asked to arrange for the repatriation of the fisherman.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

Nearly 7,000 organisations apply for Sinopharm vaccine on first day of registration

6,938 public, private and civil organisations registered for China’s state-owned Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for more than 3.18 million people on Monday, the first day of online registration.

Sinopharm will be Thailand’s first vaccine not to be provided by the Thai government for the masses and is being procured by Chulabhorn Royal Academy (CRA), to help the government in its efforts to procure more vaccines for the country.

The first batch of one million doses will arrive in Thailand on Sunday (June 20th), with about 5-6 million more scheduled to arrive in the next few months. Inoculations will begin on June 25th, according to the CRA.

Sinopharm is an inactivated virus type of vaccine, suitable for individuals who are 18 or older. Two doses are required, with the second shot taken 3-4 weeks after the first.

On May 28th, the Chinese made vaccine became the fifth to be approved by Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (TFDA). Other vaccines approved include Sinovac, also from China, the UK’s AstraZeneca and the US’s Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.

Only Sinovac and AstraZeneca are currently being administered in Thailand.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

2,804 new COVID-19 infections today, 4 new construction site clusters in Bangkok

Thailand recorded 2,804 new COVID-19 cases today (Sunday), as 4 more clusters were found in Bangkok, raising total clusters to 85, according to the CCSA.

The new clusters are at JJG Intelligence Company’s construction site in Chatuchak district, Syntec Company’s construction site on Kamphaengpetch 7 Road in Huai Khwang district, Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Company’s site in Kanna Yao district and Chomthakon Company’s construction site in Bang Na district.

The CCSA said that COVID-19 infections in Bangkok and its peripherals continue to rise daily, with no clear signs of slowing. 924 cases were recorded in Bangkok today.

Cumulative infections, since April 1st, 2021, have risen to 83,702, including 53,185 cases in Bangkok alone.

Of the new cases today, 409 are prison inmates and 61 are among arrivals from abroad. Total infections among inmates have reached 32,357 to date.

Outside Bangkok, the nine other provinces with high infection rates today are:

1. Samut Prakan, 217 cases

2. Ayutthaya, 206 cases

3. Samut Sakhon, 139 cases

4. Nonthaburi, 122 cases

5. Songkhla, 89 cases

6. Pathum Thani, 77 cases

7. Phetchaburi, 62 cases

8. Ranong, 42 cases

9. Pattani, 41 cases

24 provinces did not report a single infection today.

Cumulative infections, since early last year, are 195,909, including 154,414 recoveries and 40,046 who are still being treated in general and field hospitals. The total death toll is 1,449, including 18 today.

Since February 28th, 4,456,786 people have received their first dose of vaccine and 42,167 have received two doses. 6,081,242 doses of vaccines have been administered so far.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

Anutin denies responsibility for continuing vaccination appointment postponements

Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has denied that the Public Health Ministry has anything to do with the postponement of vaccination appointments, scheduled for this week, by numerous private and state hospitals and health centres in Bangkok and other provinces.

Mr. Anutin, who is also deputy prime minister, said today (Sunday) that the Public Health Ministry is responsible for allocating vaccine doses to all provinces, including Bangkok, as instructed by the CCSA, adding that how doses are distributed thereafter rests with each province.

Regarding a report that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) health office has run out of vaccines, because it has not received its full allocation from the Public Health Ministry, Mr. Anutin said that the ministry delivered 500,000 doses to the BMA during the first week of June, adding that more vaccine will be delivered later, when the ministry receives them from the suppliers.

Meanwhile, the BMA’s Health Office has announced that its 11 hospitals have decided to postpone the appointments, made for June 14th -17th for the first doses, until further notice, as it waits for vaccine supplies from the Public Health Ministry.

The 11 hospitals include Central Hospital, Taksin Hospital, Charoenkrung Pracharak Hospital, Luangpor Thaveesak Hospital, Vechkaroonrat Hospital, Lat Krabang Hospital, Rajpipat Hospital, Sirindhorn Hospital, Bang Khun Thian Hospital for the Elderly, Khlong Samwa Hospital and Bang Na Hospital.

However, appointments for second doses will be kept.

Some state and private hospitals have also announced, on social media, the postponement of vaccination appointments for June 14th -20th, made via the Mor Prom app., also claiming that they have not received the promised vaccines from Public Health Ministry. These include Siriraj Piyamaarajkarun Hospital, Sinpaet Hospital in the Ramintra area, Vejthani Hospital, Vichaiyuth Hospital, Metropolitan Electricity Authority’s Hospital and Rangsit University.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

Thai government urged to tell truth about vaccine supply levels to meet appointments

The Rural Doctors Society is demanding that the government, and the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), tell the truth about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and whether there are enough to meet current vaccination appointments.

In a statement, issued on Saturday, the network of doctors working in Thailand’s rural hospitals, predicts chaos this week, when more vaccination appointments are expected to be postponed and many people will be disappointed.

The statement, posted on their official Facebook page, provided details of the mass vaccination operation, which began on June 7th. 416,847 doses administered on June 7th, 472,128 doses on June 8th, 336,674 doses on June 9th, 223,315 doses on June 10th and 308,012 doses on June 11th.

It said the vaccination rate is slowing, not because officials are getting tired, “but because there are insufficient doses.”

The group predicts that the coming week will be more chaotic, because the 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, which were promised for Monday, will not be delivered until June 16th -18th, while the CCSA has been pressing the local supplier, AstraZeneca Thailand, to deliver the vaccine 1-2 days earlier.

These 1.5 million doses will be used for two weeks and the next 1.5 million, the last to be delivered in June, will not arrive until end of the month, instead of June 28th, said the Rural Doctor Society, adding that people have placed their hopes on being inoculated in the next two weeks, but the truth is that there may not be sufficient AstraZeneca vaccine.

The statement cited the abrupt closure of 45 vaccination sites in Bangkok, by the Office of Social Security, on Friday, claiming that the real reason for the closures is that they ran out of vaccine, not for improvements of the facilities, as claimed by the OSS.

“Now the OSS appears to have contracted the disease of not telling the truth, like the government,” said the statement, as it urged the government and the CCSA not to hide the truth, adding it does not hurt to tell the truth.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

Tasty treats and travel benefits: the perks of getting a COVID jab in Thailand

Thailand is offering a rich menu of incentives for people to get jabs during the just-launched mass vaccination drive, with the country targeting herd community by year-end.

As of June 10, more than 5.66 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, while 4.13 million people had been jabbed at least once. Vaccinees are being rewarded for contributing to disease-control efforts with various benefits, including free food and greater freedom to travel.

Tempting treats for vaccinees

Zen Japanese restaurants have been offering free takoyaki (squid-batter balls) and AKA eateries have been giving free kimchi soup to vaccinees who order at least one item of paid food. Not in the mood for Japanese? Don’t worry, the same offer applies at Din outlets (free Taiwanese dumplings), at On the Table (free Arabiki sausage salad), Laoyuan by Tummour (free Tummour spicy salad), and at Khiang (chicken with holy basil and rice). The promotions run till June 30.

Meanwhile, Neo Suki is offering discounts for vaccinees till July 31, with its takeaway The Box set dropping from Bt799 to Bt699 and its dine-in Neo Hit set reduced to Bt200.

MBK Centre, meanwhile, is handing out Bt40 bags of rice to vaccinees who spend at least Bt100 at the mall from May 28 to June 30. They also get a choice of free popcorn or a beverage at Major Cineplex theatres till the end of this month.

Travel rewards are also on the menu.

Nakhonchai Air, which operates cross-country VIP buses, is offering jab recipients a 5 per cent discount on fares and NCA express delivery services.

Special offers for would-be vaccinees

If you are still waiting for your jab, don’t worry: you too get a tasty buffet of free promotions. Bar-B-Q Plaza and Joom Zap Hut, for example, are offering free fried gyoza worth Bt79 to customers who produce evidence of either a COVID-19 jab or vaccination booking on top of spending at least Bt120 at their outlets between June 1 and 14.

Sweet delight on vaccination day

Reports of side effects from vaccination, such as low fever, may leave Thais worried as they line up for the jab. However, Wall’s Thailand is lightening the mood by offering free ice-cream bars at vaccination sites from June 7 onward.

“We want to restore your smile,” said the company as it launched the pro-vaccination campaign to serve one million ice-cream bars at various jab stations around the country.

Meanwhile, the authorities in Chiang Mai’s Mae Chaem district are putting a cow up for draw every week in a bid to encourage villagers to get a jab. For 24 weeks, one lucky vaccinee will be randomly chosen every week to win a young cow worth about Bt10,000.

Other provinces have also come up with creative campaigns to motivate people to register, such as giving away gold necklaces.

Greater travel freedom

Several provincial authorities have imposed restrictions on people travelling from high-risk provinces such as Bangkok.

For example, Bangkok residents who want to visit Phuket must produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within seven days of arrival. If their destination is Samui, they must test negative three days prior to travelling.

However, the hassle of COVID-19 tests is removed completely for visitors who have already had their jabs. Phuket waives the test for any traveller who has already been fully vaccinated or has received at least one shot of AstraZeneca. Visitors to Samui require the full two-dose inoculation.

Jab recipients are also eligible for Thailand’s international vaccine certificate, which should remove obstacles to overseas travel under the “vaccine-passport concept”. Many countries, including those in the European Union and nations with tourism-dependent economies, are pushing ahead with vaccine passport plans or allowing vaccinated visitors to skip quarantine requirements.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is also developing an app called Travel Pass that will enable users to upload documentation that proves their vaccination status. It will also allow passengers to check health entry requirements for countries they plan to visit and find COVID-testing centers either before they travel or upon arrival.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

Child labour rises globally for the first time in decades

ADDIS ABABA, June 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Child labour has risen for the first time in 20 years, the United Nations said on Thursday, with one in 10 children in work worldwide and millions more at risk due to COVID-19.

The number of child labourers has increased to 160 million from 152 million in 2016, with the greatest rise in Africa due to population growth, crises and poverty, said the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“We are losing ground in the fight against child labour, and the last year has not made that fight any easier,” UNICEF’s executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement, ahead of the World Day Against Child Labour on June 12.

“Now, well into a second year of global lockdowns, school closures, economic disruptions, and shrinking national budgets, families are forced to make heart-breaking choices.”

The U.N. has made 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, saying urgent action is needed to meet a goal of ending the practice by 2025.

But major gains made since 2000 – when 246 million children were in work – are being reversed and the number could climb back to 206 million by the end of 2022 if governments introduce austerity measures or fail to protect the vulnerable, it said.

The U.N. said that child labourers may now be working longer hours or under worse conditions due to pandemic-related economic shocks and school closures, and many more may be forced into the worst forms of child labour.

The report highlighted an increase in the number of children aged 5 to 11 years in child labour, who now account for just over half of the total global figure, as well as a rise in those in hazardous work that is likely to harm their health or safety.

“This is what we have been able to measure prior to the pandemic,” Claudia Cappa, one of the report’s authors and senior adviser at UNICEF, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a video call from Geneva.

“If we look at the impact of COVID-19, this gives us additional reasons for concern.”

Cappa said that the number of child labourers could fall by 15 million with mitigation measures, such as universal child grants, and if free and good quality schooling up until the minimum age for employment was ensured.

Increased investment in rural development and decent work in agriculture, a sector that accounts for 70% of child labour, are also key, according to ILO’s director-general Guy Ryder.

“The new estimates are a wake-up call. We cannot stand by while a new generation of children is put at risk,” Ryder said.

“We are at a pivotal moment and much depends on how we respond. This is a time for renewed commitment and energy, to turn the corner and break the cycle of poverty and child labour.”

Meanwhile, the latest Thailand Working Children Survey, published in 2019, shows 177,000 child labourers in the country. There are 133,000 who work in hazardous conditions, 21.9% of whom are forced to carry heavy equipment, 7.4% work with dangerous chemicals, 3.8% work in extremely hot or cold places with high noise levels and another 3.8% had to work at night (10pm-6am).

The report also shows that 49.4% of child labourers surveyed work in the agricultural sector, 31.9% work in the trade and service sectors and 18.7% work in the industrial sector.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)