Five new Covid-19 cases were confirmed in state quarantine with zero deaths over a 24-hour period, Dr Panprapa Yongtrakul, assistant spokesperson of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), reported on Wednesday (July 15).
Wednesday marked the 51st day without a domestic infection since May.
The five cases were all Thais, two of whom had returned from UAE, two from Singapore and one from the United States. Only the US returnee is showing symptoms and has lost their sense of smell.
Meanwhile, one earlier patient has fully recovered and sent home.
As of Wednesday, the total number of confirmed cases in Thailand stood at 3,232 (295 found in state quarantine) – 82 are being treated, 3,092 have recovered and been discharged and there have been 58 deaths.
Globally, total confirmed cases stand at 13.4 million, up by 221,000, with 7.8 million having recovered, while deaths stand at 581,000. Thailand is still 100 in the list of countries with Covid-19 cases, while the US is still at the top with more than 60,000 new cases confirmed followed by Brazil and India.
Two schools have decided to cancel classes after a student from each school had visited places where new Covid-19 infections were found.
Bangkok’s Samsen Wittayalai School shut its doors on Wednesday (July 15) after learning that a student and his/her family had stayed at the hotel in Rayong where an infected Egyptian soldier was staying.
Sahachai Sa-Suan, the school’s director, said the school will be closed for a day for sanitisation, which will be done by officials from the Phya Thai district office.
He also said that the student in question will be told to quarantine at home for 14 days.
However, teachers were required to go to the school on Wednesday to prepare for online classes. The school’s Facebook page said that some students will be allowed to return to school on Thursday and Friday, while the rest will attend online classes.
Meanwhile, Samut Prakan’s Wisuttikasattree School also announced it is having students attend online classes on Wednesday and Thursday after learning that one student had visited a high-risk venue on Monday (July 13) and had come to school the following day.
The owner of Golden City Rayong Hotel said that the impact of the imported Covid-19 case had been severe for Rayong province, forcing numerous businesses to close.
She said just when occupancy at her hotel had increased to around 50 or 60 per cent, new customers are back to zero.
The owner said that the lack of clarity in the soldier’s case had sparked fear among the customers. Several people had called her hotel up, and 90 per cent of bookings were cancelled on Monday (July 13), the day the new infection in Rayong was announced.
On Tuesday (July 14), the updated timeline of the Egyptian soldier was reported. Anuchida said that the timeline should ease people’s fears and increase their confidence in travelling to Rayong.
The government’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration admitted on Monday that it had made errors in managing the entry of some groups of foreigners.
The infected soldier was among a 31-strong delegation of Egyptian military personnel who landed at Rayong’s U-Tapao Airport last Wednesday and stayed in a local hotel and visited a local shopping mall.
They were not subject to state quarantine, unlike Thais who return to the country. The group left Thailand on Saturday (July 11), but a test result the next day confirmed one soldier had Covid-19.
Anuchida said that the case was an expensive lesson for the government, and she wanted the related agencies to instruct the public about each safety measure.
Kasetsart University is conducting a study on efficient water usage for agriculture in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) areas to prevent water shortage in the next 20 years when all development projects in the areas will be operating at full capacity.
An estimated over 1 billion cubic metres are expected to be used annually.
“The study is supported by National Research Council of Thailand and Thailand Science Research and Innovation,” said Songsak Phatrawutthichai, Department of Irrigation Engineering, Kasetsart University (Kamphaeng Saen Campus). “The study aims to reduce water usage for agriculture in the EEC by at least 15 per cent by adapting growing plans to climate change and study the real water requirement of economic production, especially of durian.”
Songsak added that there are more than 350,000 rai of farmland in the eastern region, most of which are dedicated to growing durian.
“In Rayong alone, there are over 50,000 rai of durian plantations and the number is continually growing every year,” he added. “This study is the first time that academics have tested the belief shared by local farmers for generations that growing durian requires a lot of water to ensure satisfactory results.”
Durian growers in the eastern region use a lot of water in the six months of the growing period starting from November onward.
“In the first three months they use around 150 litres of water per tree per day, and will increase to 200-300 litres per tree per day in the next three months, which is around the time that durian fruits are ready to harvest,” he added. “We tried to reduce the water usage to 100 litres per tree per day in the first three months, and then increase to 200 litres per tree per day in the next three months, and the result was still roughly the same.”
“The reduction of water has no effect on the quality of durian produce,” Somsak concluded.
The study calculated the water needed by durian tree via sap flow equipment that measures the flow of water from the plant’s xylem. Data was collect every day for months to determine what time the plant needed water the most and what time it did not. The experiment was conducted at Patthaphee Plantation in the Muang district of Trad province.
“A 10-rai durian plantation will normally use around 6,573 cubic metres of water in the six months of growing, whereas the method suggested by the study will help reduce water usage to 4,132 cubic metres, which is greater than the target of 15 per cent water reduction,” said Somsak.
“The challenge, however, is to convince local growers to reduce water usage. As durian is a high value economic fruit that requires steep investment, most farmers do not want to risk jeopardising their output by reducing water usage,” added Somsak. “The researchers are also working on integrating the findings to water resource management strategy among local authorities.”
Buddhachinaraj Hospital has revealed that five people who returned from Rayong to Phitsanulok provinces showed no infection, after they had visited D Varee Diva Central Rayong, the hotel where an infected Egyptian soldier had stayed.
Dr Suchat Porncharoenpong, the hospital director, said that the five persons had, however, been ordered to quarantine at home for 14 days, until July 25.
Also, he warned people to be careful, urging everyone to practice the new-normal measures regularly.
On Monday (July 13), the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration informed that one new case in Thailand was an Egyptian soldier, who had travelled with a military crew to on July 8.
He and the crew reportedly visited a Rayong shopping and community area. They left their hotel on July 9 and travelled to China on an unspecified military mission via U-Tapao Airport.
They returned to Thailand the same day. On July 10, the crew of 31 got tested. However, they were allowed to go home on July 11 though their Covid-19 test results were not confirmed.
The Office of National Water Resource (ONWR) has revealed the details of seven water resource management projects to be implemented in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) areas before presenting them to the National Water Resource Commission meeting on July 22.
“There are many urban development projects in Rayong, Chonburi and Chachoengsao provinces which might be facing the risk of water shortage for consumption and industrial usage,” ONWR secretary-general Somkiat Prajamwong said. “The government has assigned the ONWR to build 38 water reservoirs and water resource management projects in the areas. This is expected to increase water resources by 872 million cubic metres.”
The seven projects that will receive top priority are:
1. Building of reservoirs for sea water desalination, to be jointly carried out by PTT Plc and East Water Group. The project should start next year and will finish before 2022.
2. Development of underground water reservoirs for industrial use at 12 million cubic metres. The project will be under responsibility of Department of Groundwater Resources and should be able to start within 2021.
3. Building of reservoirs along Bang Pakong River, consisting of Nong Krathing and Klong Kaphong reservoirs in Chachoengsao, with capacity of 15 million and 27.5 million cubic metres respectively. The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) will be responsible for this project that should start before 2022.
4. Building of Klong Phlo reservoir in Rayong with a capacity of 40 million cubic metres. The RID will be responsible for this project that should start before 2023.
5. The development of four existing reservoirs in EEC areas. These reservoirs have a combined capacity of 37.24 million cubic metres and span across Chonburi, Chantaburi and Sa Kaeo provinces. The RID will be responsible for this project that should start within 2021.
6. Building the Klong Siyad reservoir in Chachoengsao with a capacity of 60 million cubic metres. The RID will be responsible for this project that should start before 2022.
7. Building of the Prasae reservoir with a capacity of 99.5 million cubic metres and expansion of the Chonburi Provincial Waterworks. The project will be jointly supervised by the RID and Provincial Waterworks Authority and has a timeframe between 2022 and 2027.
The baht opened at 31.49 to the US dollar on Wednesday morning (July 15), strengthening from Monday’s close of 31.57.
The Thai currency is expected to move between Bt31.43 and 31.63 on Wednesday, said Jitipol Puksamatanan, head of Markets Strategy at SCB Securities.
On Tuesday night, the capital market returned to risk-on state, from support in the energy and industry sectors. The S&P 500 went up by 1.3 per cent.
Meanwhile, the US Ten-Year Treasury yield stayed at 0.62 per cent, and the WTI crude oil price moved at $40 per barrel. Also, the price of gold rose by 0.4 per cent to over $1,800 per ounce.
The dollar weakened by 0.3 per cent, supporting the euro to reach its highest point in four months.
The issue to be monitored was the UK banning Huawei’s 5G gadgets, as a result of which the pound could fluctuate in the future.
The baht in the short term started to be stable, after its sharp weakening due to concerns about another wave of coronavirus outbreak in Thailand. However, some investors have decided to sell the currency to avoid losses from it weakening.
The strategist suggested that investors monitor the situation of China’s yuan and the Hong Kong dollar, after Donald Trump decided to end Hong Kong’s special status with the US to punish China.
If the two currencies could be stable this time, investors would be confident in Asian currencies, including the baht, he said.
A park ranger was shot dead while driving back after inspecting illegal logging in national park areas, Somchai Wichiankanlayarat, head of Klong Wang Chao National Park in Tak province, said on Tuesday (July 14) at 10.20am.
“The rangers had found logs and several logging equipment but no offenders around, so they confiscated the evidence and drove back to the national park office,” he said. “Officials reported that they heard one gunshot from behind and later saw ranger Krissada Kabbua fall down, after being hit in the back of the head by bullets that went through the truck’s rear windscreen. They tried to rush him to a hospital but Krisada succumbed to his injuries.”
Later at around 7pm Wang Chao police arrested Suchat Saejow, aged 48, a resident of Tak province while he was driving past officials who were scanning the area for the suspect. Police reportedly found a long shotgun in his car.
Suchat reportedly confessed that the logging equipment that had been confiscated earlier belonged to him, and that he had fired the gun at the park rangers’ truck in revenge. He was charged with illegal logging and murder.
“The National Park expressed its condolence to the family of Krissada who died in line of duty, and will provide funeral allowance as well as other benefits as required by the law,” said Somchai.
Nine of the 320 Thais who returned home on Tuesday (July 14) from Jordan and South Korea were found to have high fever and rushed to hospital, Suvarnabhumi Airport deputy director Kittipong Kittikachorn said.
He said 120 Thais departed Jordan on Royal Jordanian Flight RJ 6180 and arrived at the airport at 3.35pm.
“Preliminary screening found that eight passengers had high fever and were rushed to hospital. “The rest were transported to the government’s quarantine facilities for the mandatory 14-day quarantine, except one person for whom there was an arrest warrant and was taken to official custody.”
Jordan has reported 1,183 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 10 deaths.
“The second flight repatriating Thais came from South Korea,” Kittipong added. “Korean Air Flight KE651 touched down at Suvarnabhumi at 9.15pm. Out of 200 passengers, one was found to have high fever and rushed to hospital. The rest were transported to the government’s quarantine facilities in Bangkok.”
South Korea has reported 13,511 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 289 deaths.
The Thailand Meteorological Department forecast on Wednesday (July 15) that the southwest monsoon prevails over the Andaman Sea and Thailand while the southeasterly wind prevails over the country and the Gulf.
Heavy rains will be likely in the North, the Northeast, the Central and the East. People in the risky areas of the North and the East should beware of severe conditions that may cause water runoff and flash floods, the department warned.
The weather forecast for the next 24 hours is as follows:
North: Mostly cloudy with thundershowers in 40 per cent of the areas and isolated heavy rain; temperature lows of 24-26 degrees Celsius and highs of 33-35°C.
Northeast: Mostly cloudy with thundershowers in 40 per cent of the areas and isolated heavy rains; temperature lows of 23-26°C and highs of 34-36°C.
Central: Mostly cloudy with thundershowers in 40 per cent of the areas and isolated heavy rain; temperature lows of 24-25°C, highs of 34-36°C.
East: Mostly cloudy with thundershowers in 40 per cent of the areas and isolated heavy rain; temperature lows of 24-28°C, highs of 32-35°C; waves a metre high and 1-2 metres during thundershowers.
South (east coast): Mostly cloudy with thundershowers in 40 per cent of the areas; temperature lows of 23-26°C, highs of 33-35°C; waves a metre high and 1-2 metres during thundershowers.
South (west coast): Mostly cloudy with thundershowers in 40 per cent of the areas; temperature lows of 23-25°C, highs of 32-34°C; waves a metre high and 1-2 metres during thundershowers.
Bangkok and surrounding areas: Mostly cloudy with thundershowers in 40 per cent of the areas and isolated heavy rains; temperature lows of 27-25°C, highs of 33-36°C.