The cabinet of Thailand on Tuesday extended the emergency decree for fighting the coronavirus or COVID-19 June 30, as the spokeswoman denied opposition suggestion that the prime minister was seeking a return of unchecked powers.
The state of emergency was declared in late March came against the backdrop of the student protests which were taking place opposing the ban of a party against rime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha. With the new cases decreasing day by day the opposition figures show that the emergency decree should be allowed to expire.
Thailand Extends State of Emergency Decree
"The prime minister would like to say that since the beginning of the emergency decree's usage and every extension, we have based this on public health reasons and not political ones," government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said after Tuesday's cabinet meeting. Thailand was the first country outside of China to report a case of coronavirus, on Jan. 13.
The new virus has since spread around the world, infecting 5.5 million people, and killing 350,000 Thailand has had 3,045 confirmed cases and 57 fatalities, making it so far a success story among many harder-hit Southeast Asian neighbors. Prayuth first seized power in a 2014 military coup, and disputed elections last year yielded a coalition government led by his pro-army party.
The emergency decree grants broad authority to limit gatherings, order businesses closed, impose curfews and censor media, many of the same powers the former junta held. Government spokeswoman Narumon, however, said it is too early to declare the emergency over. "We have to maintain the emergency decree as a tool to manage the situation so we can overcome this," she said.
(With agency inputs)