It has claimed the lives of thousands and infected many tens of thousands more. There are infections in 30 countries and 50 million people are in quarantine in China alone.
Reports of cover ups, panic, hysteria, mis-information and fake news have been shared around social media at what would appear to be a faster rate than actual infections have occurred.
Despite all this, there is of course a reasonable possibility that the coronavirus will fade into obscurity in the coming months.
But what if it doesn’t?
What if the novel coronavirus, which causes a disease now officially known as Covid-19, explodes into a full blown pandemic?
How would Thailand cope and is it prepared for a worst case scenario?
On Thursday, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government is already making preparations in case the threat level from the coronavirus enters Phase 3 – its most severe stage.
In the event of a worst case scenario in Thailand, schools would be closed, office workers would be told to work from home and large public gatherings would be banned.
Military field hospitals would be set up in schools and special disaster recovery zones would be established in order to try and contain any further outbreak.
Military camps would also be closed, as would prisons, although it wasn’t immediately clear what would happen to prisoners if such a measure was taken.
Widespread cleaning operations would be carried out in places such as the BTS and MRT, while face masks would also be distributed to people in Thailand.
Prime Minister Prayut added that suppliers are working over time to ensure there would be no shortage of face masks.
Thailand is currently in Phase 2 and in order for the Thai government to initiate Phase 3, 1,000 people per day would need to be infected with the coronavirus, Daily News reported.
The PM stressed that the matters discussed were precautionary and there was no need for people in Thailand to be alarmed.
Health officials have so far done a good job containing the virus in Thailand, the PM said. However, the country needs to be prepared if the situation worsens.
Prime Minister Prayut also on Thursday denied there had been a cover up regarding the amount of coronavirus cases in Thailand.
The government has not hidden or distorted any information regarding the number of infections in Thailand, the PM tweeted.
The news comes after international academics on Wednesday questioned Thailand’s handling of the coronavirus situation, saying the number of reported cases seemed unusually low, considering the large number of Chinese tourists in the country.
In response, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the government had not hidden the truth regarding coronavirus and the low number of infections was due to the effective measures the government had put in place.
In 2019, the Global Health Security Index found that Thailand is one of the countries best prepared to deal with an epidemic/pandemic.
The index found that only 13 countries had sufficient resources to put up a fight against a pandemic, with Thailand being one of them.
The United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, were found to have the strongest measures in place to deal with an outbreak.
Thailand was ranked 6th overall, the highest ranking of any Asian country and also the highest ranking of any non ‘high income’ country.
At the time of publishing, Thailand has reported 35 coronavirus infections, with 19 of those infected having made a full recovery and already been sent home. There have been no deaths from coronavirus in Thailand so far.
(Source: – Thai Visa News)