Virologist calls for gradual easing of lockdown with change in public behaviour


An expert virologist at Chulalongkorn University, Dr Yong Poovorawan, has called for caution and safeguards in easing lockdown measures to coexist with Covid-19. 

He made his remarks on Saturday (April 25), saying Thailand had taken measures that had helped contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, as a result the country was spared a high death toll unlike many other countries. 

“The Covid-19 outbreak has impacted the economy and people’s lives, so the government needs to ease lockdown measures to coexist with the disease and keep it under control by using the public health system,” he said. 

He said the relaxation of lockdown measures must occur gradually. 

“For example if the government reopens public parks, people must wear a mask and avoid gatherings while running may still have limitations,” he said. 

“Open-air restaurants with roomy open areas may not have any problems, but air-conditioned restaurants with confined spaces must have strict measures, such as keeping a distance, thorough cleaning operation, and implementing ways to interact with others. 

“Barber shops may have to implement rules, like the avoiding touching as much as possible, with both service providers and customers wearing masks, reducing conversation and limiting the number of customers inside the area. Meanwhile, operators may need to inspect the air ventilation system. 

“Department stores need to implement the rules regarding social distancing. 

“If schools, especially schools that have plenty of students, have to open, the director must implement rules for online learning. It may be very hard for young children, but it will help reduce respiratory, hand, foot and mouth disease. Tutorial schools may not be open due to limited area. 

“Sport activities that permit a certain distance, such as swimming, may be allowed for competition and broadcast, but people must be prohibited from viewing sports competitions inside a stadium. 

He added that the Covid-19 outbreak would change people’s behaviour, but he believes that they will get used to it.