Thailand among some other countries, provides a reason to rejoice even if only a little bit. The number of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in Thailand are reported to be zero, now for 100 days in a row. Joining a small group of countries like, Taiwan (where pathogen is almost a history) and Mainland China (recently). As per the Health Ministry data as available on September 2, the country has not recorded any community transmission since May 26.
The efforts should be appreciated as the fact of the matter is, Thailand was the first country after People’s Republic of China to have recorded a COVID-19 case on January 13. Afterwards, with the religious efforts of checking and quarantining which was complimented by the universal health coverage, the pandemic even with its early advent has been handled very effectively.
The authorities are still able to find infections among tourists, but are being quarantined and treated. The countries like New Zealand, where even after making it past 100 days, the local infections re-emerged. So, it is a moment of rejoice which should not be celebrated as it is not for certain that the COVID-19 has gone. This has placed Thailand in a fix, that is, if they cannot open their country, they are compromising on tourism which is 20% of their GPD. “We contained the virus, and now is really the time to focus on the economy – the longer we close the borders, the more damage it will have,” said Mr Somprawin Manprasert, chief economist at Bank of Ayudhya Pcl in Bangkok.
The dilemma faced by Thailand perfectly encapsulates the balance which governments worldwide are trying to achieve, that being, public health and economic survival. They say health is wealth, but it is becoming costlier by the day to keep the pathogen at bay and the people healthy.
Author is a journalist specializing in international relations with extensive experience working with online media. He has a keen interest in all things geopolitics and thence enjoys writing on issues pertaining to Foreign Policy, International Relations, Strategic and Security Affairs of Indo-Pacific Region.