July 31, 2021

the Prime Minister in the hot seat for “calamitous” management of the Covid-19 pandemic

Anti-government protests in Thailand, which have targeted the military-monarchist oligarchy in power for a year, are now focused against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as the kingdom has been facing for a few weeks a peak of contamination unprecedented since the appearance of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hundreds of people gathered again in Bangkok, Sunday, July 18, to demand the resignation of the head of government but also to demand that an adequate supply of messenger RNA vaccines be immediately guaranteed.

The number of Sunday demonstrators, gathered around their fetish “base” of the “monument to democracy”, remains modest. The unease is nonetheless real among a growing spectrum of the population. For months, Thailand had been spared by Covid-19, in particular due to very strict measures imposed in terms of epidemiological surveillance and travel restrictions.

One of the most exposed countries in Asia

Until April, little more than three hundred people had died of the disease and, for months, no deaths were to be deplored while the level of contamination remained very low, not to say zero. The reality is now quite different: more than three thousand deaths – ten times more in less than three months – more than ten thousand positive cases per day and mortality peaks amounting to more than a hundred daily. Thailand has become one of the most exposed countries in Asia.

Read also Covid-19 around the world: Delta variant worries, Thailand puts restrictions in place

Another reason for concern and anger: most of the vaccination is provided by the Chinese vaccine Sinovac, reputed to be much less effective against the variants, and by Astra Zeneca. However, the number of doses of it, produced by a company belonging to the king, is for the moment insufficient. Barely three million people have so far received two doses of vaccines in a population of nearly seventy million …

« The poorly thought out design of a strategy [gouvernementale de contrôle de la pandémie] can now be called a national calamity “, Thunders, in a column of the English-language daily Bangkok Post, the political scientist Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute on security and international studies at the faculty of political science of Chulalongkorn. “ While the movement [pro démocratique] led by the youth demands political reforms, more fundamental changes could in the future be the consequence of the disastrous management of the Covid, source of deaths, daily difficulties and collective frustration “, Continues the intellectual who asks” the opening of an investigation “Aimed at forcing the government to” accountable ».

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