Because Thailand 4.0 believes in the power of smartphone apps, the Public Health Ministry is launching a new one it says will offer more detailed coronavirus information.
Called COVID Tracker, it was to be available as soon as today, according to a deputy health minister, to augment the daily media briefings which have been the sole vector of public information since the outbreak began two months ago.
Most interestingly, Sathit Pitutecha said it would include location information. Health officials to date have steadfastly refused to disclose basic information that could prove potentially useful, such as where people took ill and places they visited.
That’s left the public to speculate as frustration has mounted with scant public information. It also led to an unofficial private attempt to track cases on the map since late last week. Also called Covid Tracker (English version), it’s a nationwide map of cases based on news accounts, self-reporting and information from the health ministry.
Of course like other health ministry apps, such as its Dr. Ganja cannabis info app, it may not include information in English and may be region-locked to only appear in Thai-registered app stores.
In the past week, increased numbers of people and organizations such as schools self-reporting their cases of infection have gotten out ahead of what had been a carefully managed message that at times seemed more concerned with playing down fear rather than providing actionable information.
Since Sunday, the official tally has skyrocketed, with health officials announcing dozens of new cases daily. Thailand has now reported 212 infections since it became the first nation to detect one outside of China in mid-January.
Also part of its response, the government dispatched soldiers and cleaning crews at about midnight this morning to scrub down streets in the capital, most likely because it makes for nice photos and headlines published by pliant media rather than a demonstrable public safety benefit.
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