Siam Paragon on the first day of the re-opening. Credit: Siam Paragon

Thai Chana app introduced to keep Coronavirus at bay as restrictions eased further

As the easing of the restrictions in Phase 2 has set sail, Thailand is borrowing the power of an application to help track the disease despite concerns over privacy

Thailand is attempting to strike a balance between keeping the Coronavirus outbreak at bay and improving the damaged economy by introducing a digital based disease control tracking system to facilitate further easing of the restrictions implemented against the spread of the Coronavirus.

The use of technology to help public health officials track cases in a timely manner had been addressed since the beginning of the easing of the restrictions, but was not introduced during the first phase of the rule relaxation starting on May 3 onwards.

At the Cabinet meeting on April 28, under which the state of emergency renewal and the restriction relaxation framework were approved, the National Security Council as the Center for Coronavirus Situation Administration’s coordinating body proposed the measure along with other procedures to the Cabinet for acknowledgement.

As aiming to ease the restrictions further, the center on Friday decided to introduce the new application, Thai Chana (Thailand wins) to the public.

“Let’s call it a “platform”, not an application,” said Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, the center’s spokesperson during the press briefing over the weekend.

According to Dr. Taweesin, Thai Chana is a “platform” to support shops and other service providers to check whether their facilities become crowded. To activate the system, these shops and service providers will be required to register with the system and then they will obtain QR codes.

Customers, meanwhile, will only scan QR codes when entering Thai Chana registered compounds, and through the platform’s operation, those infected with the virus and their contacts would be easily detected and identified.

Further detail about the platform is not available despite public concerns over possible compromise of privacy. Dr. Taweesin dispelled concerns, saying it would not affect privacy of individuals.

As of yesterday, which is the start of the second restriction relaxation phase, 42,811 shops and facilities nationwide were reported of joining the system, and 1.79 million customers had spent time checking in and out at the compounds.

Credit: Siam Paragon

Easing the restrictions Phase 2

The easing of the restrictions in Phase 2 had been seriously pondered during the week by the government as the number of the country’s new cases has dropped below 10 since late last month, and on Thursday it dropped to zero for the first time with no new cases being reported in any groups in the country.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, as the center’s chair, said at the center’s meeting on Friday that the government decided to move into Phase 2 of the restriction relaxation because it needed to steer the damaged economy.

He conceded that the government was worried about the risk of the second wave of the outbreak, so it asked the media to cooperate with it in disseminating information to the public, citing part of the success in controlling the disease was public awareness derived from information disseminated to them.

At the meeting, the center decided to maintain a ban on international flights and restrictions on domestic travels.

But it decided to reduce the curfew time by one hour, starting at 11 pm instead of 10 pm and ending at 4 am, and introduce the easing of the restrictions further for businesses and activities with broad social and economic implications. (Read: “New Normal” officially instructed)

Those include;
*Big restaurants and food centers without alcohol on service
*Shopping malls and department stores except for entertainment facilities such as movie theaters (closing at 8pm and a ban on sale promotion events)
*Big retail and wholesale stores
*Nursery and home cares
*Film shooting of no more than 50 crews
*Convention centers or meetings with limited attendance
*Beauty clinics with limited services
*Indoor sport grounds with limited players, swimming pools, fitnesses with no equipment on service or group exercises.
*Art centers, museums, historical sites, public libraries, and botanical gardens

To be able to re-open, they will be required to comply with the standards of practice to ensure hygienic and disease control as well as social distancing requirements.

Last but not least, the center agreed to encourage the use of the application Thai Chana among the public to support disease control measures.

Credit: Siam Paragon

Phase 1’s assessment

After 14 days of implementation of the easing of the restrictions in Phase 1, the center has released its survey on performances of businesses and activities allowed.

According to the center’s survey, 27% of beauty salons and barber shops have passed the score in implementing disease control and social distancing measures required, while 63% have failed the test.

40% of pet clinics and animal care centers have passed the score, while 53% have not.

They have failed to wear face shields or masks the most, followed by improperly screening their customers, and inadequate recording their customers’ information.

The Public Health Ministry, meanwhile, has also launched its assessment, which shows that people in general are letting their guards down.

The ministry has learned that 91% are found wearing masks, 82% washing hands, and only 60% now maintaining social distancing.