BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was fined on Monday (Apr 26) for not wearing a face mask in public while attending a meeting at Government House to discuss the COVID-19 situation in Thailand.
In a Facebook post, Mr Prayut explained how his government is pushing to secure more COVID-19 vaccines and attached a photograph of the meeting. It showed him at a table with several advisers.
All of them wore face masks except the prime minister.
Wearing a mask is now compulsory in public spaces in 49 provinces and the Thai capital. Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang had reminded residents to put on their face masks correctly from Monday or risk a fine of up to 20,000 baht (US$640).
Following widespread criticism against the prime minister, Aswin posted on his Facebook page that Prayut has been fined 6,000 baht (US$190) for failing to comply with the rules.
“After the meeting, the prime minister asked me as the governor of Bangkok to investigate if the case is a wrongdoing. I informed him that his action violates the announcement by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration which ordered people in Bangkok to wear surgical masks or cloth masks anytime they leave their residence,” Aswin said.
“Later, I travelled to Government House with the Metropolitan Police chief and inspectors from the Dusit police station,” he added.
“The prime minister agreed to be fined.”
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Mr Prayut’s Facebook post on the meeting with his advisers was deleted and reposted – without the photograph showing him without a face mask.
The incident comes amid Thailand’s latest wave of COVID-19 outbreak which has infected more than 28,000 people and killed 54 since the start of April.
It has spread from nightclubs, parties and concerts since early this month. Following the recent spike in cases, the Thai government ordered a temporary closure of nightclubs, pubs and bars nationwide, along with other measures to control the spread of the coronavirus.
In high-risk zones such as Bangkok, various measures have been implemented, including a ban on some activities and the closure of several venues to limit people’s movement and reduce the risk of infection.
Nationwide, night venues such as pubs, bars and massage parlours face a temporary closure of at least 14 days. Schools and universities are also shut.
On Monday, Mr Prayut said in his controversial Facebook post that Thailand aims to administer at least 300,000 doses per day in order to get 50 million people vaccinated within this year. The government will also try to secure more COVID-19 vaccines with an aim to get 10 million to 15 million doses per month, he added.
According to the Disease Control Department, Thailand reported 2,048 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of infections to 57,508.
The country has so far reported 148 deaths due to the coronavirus. Currently, 563 patients are in critical condition.
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