Rally could spark second wave of COVID-19 – Thai PM

BANGKOK Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan o-cha urged anti-government groups to call off a rally planned for this weekend in Bangkok as it could spark a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a televised address, Prayuth said a mass gathering could pose “an enormous risk of new infections” and risk to the livelihood of tens of millions of fellow Thais.

He urged the anti-government groups to put aside political issues and focus on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and on the kingdom’s economic recovery.

“Any major flare-up of infections will lead to terrible consequences and even worse economic destruction. Please think about this.

“Let me tell all protesters now, loud and clear, that I hear your political grievances and issues with the constitution. I respect your opinions. Right now, the immediate issue that must be address is the economic destruction by COVID-19.

“Let’s not make the situation worse than it is. Your protests delay economic recovery… Let’s try and get through this global crisis and defeat COVID-19 first, together and then we can come back to politics,” he said.

To date, Thailand has reported 3,490 COVID-19 cases with 58 fatalities.

Anti-government groups plan to hold a major rally in Bangkok this weekend to call for the dissolution of parliament, ending of harassment against government critics, and rewriting of the constitution.

The protest leaders expect at least 40,000 people to attend the rally that will start at the Tha Prachan campus of Thammasat University in inner Bangkok on Saturday. The group plans to march to Government House on Sunday.

Prayuth said he had instructed the police to be tolerant and avoid clashes at this weekend’s rally.

“I trust in the good sense of the protesters,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency