Yet, 11 months later, like many of its south-east Asian neighbours, Thailandhas so far avoided the worst of the virus. As of 15 December, Thailand has recorded 4,246 infections since the start of the year – just over a fifth of the cases recorded on Monday alone in the UK. Fatalities stand at 60.
Prof Anucha Apisarnthanarak, chief of the infectious diseases division at Thammasat University, said the country’s success was down to clear communication by health experts, a willingness to allow scientists to lead the response and an effective lockdown, which was followed by the public. “I think one of the most impactful interventions was universal mask wearing,” he added. “We did it not because we knew [it would be effective] but because somehow this is the Asian culture.” There is, Anucha said, now evidence to suggest that this significantly lowered the number of infections and deaths.