Community spirit powerful tool to fight pandemic

Street vendors were cooking free meals for workers laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, small hotels were providing free rooms for healthcare workers, and universities and the military were making their medical facilities available to all in the fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

One of the highest compliments Thai people can pay is to say someone is “jai dee,” meaning they have a good heart. Thailand’s people are showing how jai dee they can be as the coronavirus pandemic begins affecting their brothers and sisters, and their foreign guests.

“After I began providing free meals, other vendors and local businesses with kind hearts came to give me financial support to buy ingredients,” said Pornphitsanu Phonmathong, 56, a street vendor selling fried rice in central Nakhon Sawan province.

Poenphitsanu has been doling out his freshly cooked fried rice with eggs at no charge to people who lost their jobs because of the pandemic. “There are many people now living hand to mouth,” he said.

Campaigns, large and small, to get masks to healthcare workers are starting up. Ponn Virulrak, and assistant professor at a local university, called on his Facebook friends to donate money to buy masks for hospital staff. So far, he has received pledges for 1,700 masks and delivered 1,000 to hospitals.

Fundraising platform has also been raising funds for the purpose and has sent more than 1,800 PPE (personal protective equipment) suits to hospitals in Bangkok, including the one run by the Department of Corrections.

Prangphisut Daengdej, the co-founder of the Mask Bank Crowdfunding and Donation Campaign, said her project aims to tackle the shortage of face masks stemming from hoarding. She believes she will be able to manufacture and deliver 40 million masks in eight weeks.

The Quarter Residence, a small hotel near several hospitals in Bangkok, said it is temporarily suspending its business and giving its rooms to medical and healthcare staff working at Rajavithi, Phyathai, Mission, Phramongkutklao and Police General hospitals.

The military is also pitching in, making all 13 of its hospitals across the Kingdom available to treat COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, Thammasat University opened Thailand’s first field hospital, a 308-bed facility on its Rangsit campus, to treat non-critical coronavirus patients. The project is a collaborative effort among five teaching hospitals — Siriraj, Ramathibodi, Chulalongkorn, Vajira, and Thammasat — to handle the growing caseloads at their existing facilities.

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