Naphalai's Diary: March 16-22
Last week I asked if I was being socially irresponsible by earlier still going to events (albeit much less than previously), taking the skytrain and going to work every day. Well, I have the answer now: yes, by not distancing myself from others as requested I was being reckless and remiss as far as social obligation is concerned. In many ways, I am not very Thai but as far as a mai pen rai attitude in such cases goes, then I carry the red, white and blue flag quite well. The feeling was: oh, it couldn’t happen to me so I will just go about my daily business.
However, the situation has changed quite a bit since then. Up to the first week of March the Covid-19 infection figure held steady in the 40s, which did not seem in the least bit threatening. It slowly crept up but on Sunday, March 15 it broke through the 100 mark. And last week the infection rate grew by almost 100 every day so that as of last Sunday, we had notched up 599 cases and still growing. According to experts, the badly hit countries such as Italy and other European countries saw the cases rising from 100 to 200 in three days. In Thailand, it took 3.5 days, which means we are going the way of these countries if we don’t do anything about it.
Dean of Siriraj Hospital’s Faculty of Medicine Dr Prasit Watanapa has revealed that the number of infections in Thailand is increasing by over 30 per cent daily. At this rate, the number will climb to over 350,000 by April 15 with the death toll estimated at over 7,000 as the medical services will be unable to cope. Countries that have been able to contain the spread such as Japan, Taiwan and Singapore were able to limit the increase in local infections to 20 per cent. For Thailand, a spike of this percentage will mean less than 25,000 cases by April 15 and will be within the handling capacity of the country’s public health system, he says. This can only be achieved if everyone follows the guidelines to distance themselves and reduce contact with others during this period.
As it was only those with a strong public spirit (and we know there aren’t that many of them in our fair country) who stopped all forms of social proximity, on Saturday the government came up with stricter regulations. In effect, they closed down most venues where people tend to congregate, such as shopping malls and restaurants, and even places where smaller numbers gather like beauty parlours (denying Bangkok’s glitterati their hairdressers would have been ever so cruel If there had been events to go to—sadly not the case now!).
Opening of New Quattro Design Showroom
However, before I went into self-isolation this week, I went to my last two events last week. Both implemented some form of social distancing by making sure that there were only small groups there at any one time and also ensuring that temperatures were monitored and hand disinfectant and masks were available. The first was the opening of the Quattro Design S26 at A Square at Sukhumvit 26. From Thonglor, managing director Praowphan Laohapongchana moved the luxury furniture showroom to its new home with 900 square metres of display area for the many brands it carries. Throughout the afternoon there was a smooth flow of guests who came to congratulate the owner and her partners, who included Vichuda Sitakalin and Suvadee Phungboonphra.
A Bulgari Trunk Show
The other was the Bulgari private trunk show held at the Mandarin Oriental’s Royal Suite, featuring 28 pieces of high jewellery and 12 watch designs. The jewellery included some items not shown before in Thailand from the brand’s iconic collections such as Serpenti and Fiorever. Taking guests through the display were executives CJ Quema, Areerat Krissanasmit and Chalimchorn Tangboonchoo and their team.
The country is in a soft lockdown now but that has not stemmed the continuing steep rise in cases and this week more new measures have been announced. Mea culpa, I know I was one of those guilty of not heeding recommendations and hate to think I could be among those who have contributed to the soaring numbers. But I am doing my best to make up for that now and am currently cocooning myself at home. For those who want to know what my work-from-home experience is like, do check out my Diary next week.
Previously: Naphalai's Diary: March 9-15