The Thai cabinet today (Tuesday) designated Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as the sole authority in charge of all responsibilities and duties, previously vested in his ministers, to deal with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The powers vested in various ministers, by virtue of various laws regarding the issuance of orders, permits and approvals which will help in preventing or containing COVID spread or in helping the people, will be vested in the prime minister on temporary basis.
According to the cabinet, the concentration of powers with the prime minister is to ensure efficiency in the efforts to deal with the disease.
The laws include the Communicable Disease Act, the Drugs Act, the Navigation in Thai Waters Act, the Air Travel Act, the Land Traffic Act, the Armaments Act, the Medical Equipment Act, the Immigration Act, the Public Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act, the Poisonous Substances Act and the National Health Security Act, among others.
All key aspects related to the prevention of the spread of the virus and treatment of the infected, including the procurement and distribution of vaccines and anti-viral drugs, management of hospital beds, vaccinations and imposition of restrictions to contain the disease, among others, will be in the sole control of the prime minister.
After the cabinet meeting, the prime minister said that he had assigned the Foreign Affairs Ministry to contact foreign governments for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
He said he would meet with the Federation of Thai Industries, the Thai Bankers Association and the Board of Trade of Thailand, to discuss cooperation with the government in the fight against the disease and to hear their views and recommendations.