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Public Health Ministry considers reopening in two weeks time

Another forced lockdown may be necessary if the latest Covid-19 variant is detected in Thailand.

Should the variant be detected, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will then make a decision regarding lockdown.

However, the new strain has not been found in Thailand yet, according to health authorities.

Speaking after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said the cabinet instructed relevant agencies to monitor the situation closely while the Public Health Ministry considers the country’s reopening in two weeks’ time.

Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha urged the public not to panic, saying the prime minister has ordered security agencies to intensify border surveillance to prevent illegal crossings to help keep the virus at bay.

Mr Sathit stressed that officials who are found to be negligent of their duty will face severe punishment.

He told the Bangkok Post that the cabinet did not discuss a lockdown but did consider tougher measures to detect the virus.

The government was concerned about illegal migrants sneaking into the country via natural border crossings, Mr Sathit added.

“The situation will be monitored closely. Measures will be reviewed based on new information coming in.

If the Omicron strain is found in Thailand, the country will have to face another lockdown,” Mr Sathit said.

“It is the prime minister’s policy and he will make a quick decision as director of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.”

Mr Sathit also said that nightlife venues may be allowed to reopen on Jan 16 if the Omicron strain is not detected, though he stressed the need to continue following DMHTT guidelines, referring to social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, temperature checking and using the Thai Chana app.

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