Over 90% of respondents to a recent opinion poll fear the prospect of a second wave of COVID-19 infections and want a complete ban on foreign arrivals in Thailand, according to a Suan Dusit Poll.
The poll was carried out online on July 14-18 among 1,459 people throughout the country, shortly after an Egyptian airman and a Sudanese girl were found to have been infected with Covid-19 after they were allowed to enter the country.
The incident, particularly in Rayong and Eastern Thailand, notably triggered fear and anger over what happened, although no subsequent infections were recorded, and drew an apology from the Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha.
Thailand has been free of local transmissions for 55 days, but an opinion survey showed that the vast majority of Thais are still against opening the doors to foreigners.
On the question of how to prevent a second wave of infections, 94.51% want the Government to forbid all foreigners from entering Thailand, 86.41% suggest stringent screening processes, 83.80% say people must wear face masks and regularly wash their hands.
73.8% think there will be another lockdown
Asked to mention five things that would worry them if there were a new wave of the Covid-19 spread, with each respondent allowed to give more than one answer, 95.89% cited the degree to which the disease spread; 94.45% unemployment; 92% a shutdown of businesses; 84.1% their children’s schooling; and 84.1% another lockdown announcement.
Other worrying developments include a Facebook page that has claimed that a plot is under way to import infected people to trigger a second small wave of infections and extend the emergency decree to prevent student protests.
Thailand has earned international praise for its containment of the Covid-19 pandemic, with very modest levels of infections and less than 60 deaths, but the impact of the pandemic has been particularly harsh for Thai people, particularly on the country’s most vulnerable communities.
Thailand was among the worst-hit economies in the region, and could take at least two years to return to pre-pandemic output.
The tourism sector, which accounts for 15%-20% of GDP, has been hard hit and the Covid-19 lockdown is expected to drive millions below the poverty line and erase economic gains of recent years.