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NHRC urges cooperation to stall spread of COVID-19

Graphic: Commission Chairperson What Tingsamitr

The changing nature of the crisis will affect the right to good health of the Thai people and their labour rights, the Commission said in a statement.

According to the statement of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) regarding the situation of the disease outbreak of COVID-19 dated 10 March 2020, the NHRCT had its concerns and recommendations to all parties for the benefit of surveillance, prevention and control of the communicable disease including remedial measures. All parties have tried to help stop the outbreak of the disease and to raise awareness for the people on how to prevent the dangers caused by the infection of the disease.

However, the disease outbreak in Thailand has increased its transmission due to the change of the specific situation which is similar to the situation in many countries and will affect the right to good health of the Thai people and labour rights affirmed by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) to which Thailand is a party.

The NHRCT has its recommendations to solve the problems in the current situation as follows:

1. The Prime Minister should have full power to solve problems, integrate relevant agencies by having the same direction to manage the situation, establish a systematic approach to manage crisis communication. Dissemination of orders or measures should come from the same source whether central or regional agencies in order to prevent the public from becoming confused and should set measures to monitor, prevent and stop the disease outbreak in a precise and coherent manner. The government should also prepare a response plan in case of pandemic.

2. Although the provincial governors with the approval of the Provincial Communicable Disease Control Committee or the Bangkok Governor with the approval of the Bangkok Communicable Disease Control Committee have the power to temporarily close the places in accordance with the Communicable Diseases Act of 2015, it should be done with caution and without discrimination as well as establishment of fair remedial measures for those directly affected such as workers who have to stop their work according to orders resulting in many of them returning their home provinces which is at risk of spreading disease to people in the local area. The Department of Disease Control also has a letter requesting cooperation in searching, monitoring and preventing the disease at the district and village levels. However, there is still no clear evidence that department stores, shopping centers or community malls are the source of spreading disease for the reason of closure.

3. Under the present situation, if the government will consider implementing the lockdown policy in the specified area and time, it should be cautious of the impacts that may occur from the use of such policy and should deliberate the strategic service plan, starting from the production process, collection and daily delivery, accessibility to safe public transportation services as well as public health services, especially among the urban poor people.

4. The general public should have social responsibility by following orders, recommendations or measures of the government, medical teams and government agencies and prevent and control the disease outbreak such as social distancing and "staying home to stop the infection for the nation" policy and should strictly cooperation and follow the government measures to prevent and reduce the disease outbreak.

The NHRCT is confident that the government action and cooperation of all parties will truly help prevention and control of the COVID-19 disease outbreak in Thailand so that we can overcome this difficult crisis together.

Date: 23 March 2020

Source: National Human Rights Commission of Thailand

Image credits

  1. Commission Chairperson What Tingsamitr - National Human Rights Commission of Thailand