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Alarm as Thai children separated from Covid-hit families

The move has caused concern about possible violations of the rights of children

UCA News reporter, Bangkok

UCA News reporter, Bangkok

Published: August 06, 2021 03:49 AM GMT

Updated: August 06, 2021 03:57 AM GMT

Alarm as Thai children separated from Covid-hit families

Hospital workers prepare to move Covid victims from a cooled storage container into coffins outside the morgue of Thammasat Hospital in Pathum Thani province on Aug. 4 as cases continued to surge in Thailand. (Photo: AFP)

A controversial move by Thai authorities to separate children from their parents in the case of Covid-19 infections within their families is causing concern in Bangkok.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has set up a care center for children aged 3-14 who have either tested positive for the coronavirus or whose parents require treatment for the virus.

“The center organizes fun activities and gives the youngsters toys to play with to keep them occupied and ease the stress of being away from their families, whose members were in some cases themselves infected and undergoing treatment,” the Bangkok Post reported.

However, the move has caused concerns about possible violations of the rights of children in Thailand, where it has become common practice to force people who test positive for the virus but exhibit no or only mild symptoms to stay for weeks in so-called field hospitals, set up at stadiums, shopping malls and elsewhere.

“There is no way I would allow anyone in this government to separate me from my child. Period,” a commenter noted.

“In other words, the government is now kidnapping children,” said another.

It is reassuring that the number of children experiencing long-lasting symptoms of Covid-19 is low

Only a small minority of children experience longer-term symptoms from Covid-19, according to various studies conducted internationally.

“In children, SARS-CoV-2 infection is usually asymptomatic or causes a mild illness of short duration,” said the authors of a new study conducted in the United Kingdom and published in the British medical journal The Lancet.

In the study, which involved more than 1,700 British children, the researchers found that only 4.4 percent of children had symptoms that lasted a month or longer.

“It is reassuring that the number of children experiencing long-lasting symptoms of Covid-19 is low,” Dr. Emma Duncan, an endocrinologist at King’s College London, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

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“Nevertheless, a small number of children do experience long illness with Covid-19.”

The Thai government’s handling of a surging Covid-19 outbreak, which has seen nearly 700,000 people infected and almost 5,600 die, the vast majority since April, has drawn widespread criticism.

A severe weeks-long lockdown, which has devastated the economy, has proved ineffective in halting the spread of infections, which have been on the rise daily for weeks.

The Southeast Asian nation registered a record 20,920 infections and 160 deaths on Aug. 5.

At the same time, a mass vaccination project, which kicked off after repeated delays in early June, has faced chronic shortages of vaccines. As of Aug. 5, fewer than 6 percent of the population in a country of 69 million had been fully vaccinated.

Thailand is no longer an example of success but of disappointment

Frequently contradictory statements and seemingly ad hoc polices by the military-allied government, whose popularity has plummeted, have added to the unease among many locals that those in charge are unable to handle the country’s biggest crisis in recent memory.

Once touted as a success story in containing the virus, Thailand is now seen by many experts as an object lesson in how ill-advised government policies can cause chaos and worsen an outbreak.

“Thailand is no longer an example of success but of disappointment,” Peerasit Kamnuansilpa, dean of the College of Local Administration at Khon Kaen University, wrote in an op-ed published on Aug. 4.

“Again, one only needs to read the daily Covid statistics to see how far we have fallen.” 

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