Thai leader to invoke emergency powers as virus infections climb
BANGKOK : Thailand's leader said yesterday he would invoke sweeping emergency powers in the face of surging coronavirus infections, and in a sign of toughening official action, a man was arrested over allegations of creating panic on social media.
Thailand has the region's second highest number of virus cases after Malaysia, with a total of 827 after 106 new infections were reported yesterday. Four people have died.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who seized power in a 2014 coup, said he would invoke powers to help suppress the virus.
The emergency decree is due to take effect tomorrow and Mr Prayut said details of the specific powers to be used would be set out later.
Among the powers in the decree is "to censor or shut down media if deemed necessary".
With growing concern in Thailand over the spread of the virus, the government said a man had been arrested after posting false statements about a lack of coronavirus screening at Bangkok's main international airport.
"The post created panic for the public and eroded their confidence in Suvarnabhumi Airport," the Ministry of Digital Affairs said.
In a separate development, Myanmar confirmed its first cases on Monday after weeks of increasing scepticism over its claims to be free of the disease.
The country of 54 million people had been the world's largest country by population not to report a single case .
Myanmar's Health Ministry confirmed that a 36-year-old Myanmar man travelling back from the United States and a 26-year-old Myanmar man returning from Britain had both tested positive.
"We will investigate all the people who were in close contact with these two men," the ministry said.
The Myanmar government had claimed the country's "lifestyle and diet" - including the lack of physical contact and the use of cash rather than credit cards - offered protection to the nation.
Mr Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch last week branded the government's attitude as "irresponsible", saying it served only to give people a false sense of security. - REUTERS, AFP