The government’s recently introduced campaign, Ruam Thai Sang Chat, is boosted by government figures, including the CCSA’s spokesperson, again amid the plunging confidence and economy following the Rayong scare. Credit: CCSA

EDITORIAL: Rayong health scare is testing the country’s consciousness in dealing with the mythifying COVID-19

People are rushing to return to normal with the government’s encouragement amid repeated warnings by experts worldwide that the safe exit from COVID-19 and the economic damage can only arrive with carefully crafted and comprehensive strategies

All attention now is on Rayong, the country’s famous seaside city, trying to console it from the COVID-19 scare prompted by a fresh infection by an Egyptian military crew last week.

The officer was in transit over the military mission along with some 30 fellow military officers, and also under self-quarantine in a hotel in the province, but on July 10, two days after the group had landed at U-Tapao Airport, he was found wandering in one mall for almost 4 hours_while having contracted the virus.

The case was officially declared on Monday by the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) along with another one concerning a Sudanese diplomat daughter in Bangkok, shaking hard confidence of the country for the fact that it had been free from local transmissions for over 50 days_as well as that of this seaside city of Rayong, which just emerged out of the exhausting restrictions.

The CCSA quickly doused the situation, suppressing fears with immediate testing to ensure that no local people have contracted the virus.

Moreover, it has introduced six prime activities to try to restore the lost confidence in Rayong. Those include the so-called All-Stars football match, a marathon rally, a seaside biking tour, a seaside concert, foreign film shootings, and medical wellness tourism.

Amid an attempt to scoop up the lost tourism confidence and the damaged economy caused by the virus, what is at play here is a much compromise with disease control that could put every one in jeopardy.

All activities, though coming with good intention, are flawed as they will allow mass gatherings, the conditions which were once strictly banned under the CCSA’s rules and regulations.

But it’s the CCSA itself now, which is lowering the country’s guard, being compromising one of the key measures in disease control against the virus by coming with with the activities prone to draw mass crowds.

The Rayong case would be critical for the country’s overall disease control effort against COVID-19, as the CCSA has decided that it would be a model for the rest of the country how to live with the virus, which in contrast has shown no sign of losing momentum worldwide so far, with an accelerating infection trend with 200,000 cases reported within a day!

By trying to heal and revive the damaged economy caused by the virus with such a quick exit, the CCSA has placed the whole country in a greater risk of going round and round with the virus infection and the economic damage.

Since it emerged in late last year in China, experts worldwide have now accepted that life would never be the same, and people as well as a number of their activities and lifestyle need to be adaptive to avoid infections with COVID-19.

What is no less feared, or even greater is the economic damage caused by restriction measures against the virus that leading epidemiological experts including those at the World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned that they could not be allowed to be undertaken back and forth forced by fresh infections, as the society cannot stand such the situation.

Comprehensive strategies are repeatedly recommended to guide the society to get out of this endless loop.

Amid increasing social and economic pressure, the governments must therefore carefully take steps to lead people towards the safe exit, and the Thai government is not excluded.

The Rayong case, therefore, is not just an immediate case that needs immediate remedies. It really requires a thorough and comprehensive thinking to address the truly safe exit for all, and this can only arrives with clear consciousness, especially when society has been spooked by the virus scare and an increasing pressure to return to “normal” life.