Update August 20: The Cabinet today approved extension of the emergency decree to the end of September
Although no local transmission of the coronavirus has been detected for three months, the emergency decree will likely be extended until October.
Nattaphon Nakpanich, an army deputy commander and vice president of the COVID-19 task force, said this morning that they may extend the emergency decree once again for another month because they worry the public will let its guard down, leading to a second wave of infections.
Critics have accused the government of exploiting the pandemic to leave the state of emergency in place to rein in growing protests against its rule. Nattaphon insisted the extension would not restrict people from gathering to protest, saying the special enforcement measures were solely to facilitate disease control.
Despite repeatedly saying the emergency decree enacted five months ago would only be used to fight the pandemic, two protest leaders were charged with violating it earlier this month.
The decree, which grants officials the authority to take any actions deemed necessary to combat the virus, is currently set to expire Aug. 31.
Health officials have reported 3,381 infections since the outbreak began, but no domestic transmissions have been logged since May 25. The death toll stands at 58.
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