April 23, 2020 –
Nakhon Nayok City in central Thailand has a guesstimated population of roughly 30,00, the last census was taken in 2006 and showed a population of 17,385. It is the closest town to my home in central Thailand’s rice country, and where we shop for food and necessities. I had to make the monthly trip for groceries a few days ago and documented life under Thailand’s declared national emergency and stay at home advise.
Thailand has an extremely low coronavirus infection count and mortality rate, causing some to question Thailand’s reporting. To be fair, there is virtually no testing done here outside of hospitals for already sick patients, and autopsies are not all that common. Testing for the virus is expensive for both Thais and foreigners, hence it is not something most even consider. Given the state of testing and autopsies, it is understandable why Thailand is reporting almost unbelievable low numbers. Most people I spoke with in my rural community don’t believe the Government’s numbers, which is a good thing, as it promotes the use of masks and social distancing to be safe.
Walking through the streets of Nakhon Nayok I noticed most people wearing masks. When passing people on the sidewalks a wide berth was given. It was strange and almost surreal. When people accidently came close to one another, there were apologizes given, oh … sorry, and then a step to the side or backwards.
However the streets were just as busy as always. Construction workers, and street vendors were going about their usual daily tasks. The restaurants I saw were only offering take out. The larger grocery outlets had the isles offering nonessential items roped off. Life goes on. Most people here stay at home when they can, but workers that need to make an income or starve, are working. Such is the new normal in rural Thailand.
Lee Craker, posting from Nakhon Nayok, Thailand.