Now is no time for scare mongering regarding the coronavirus, but so many retired expats are failing to grasp the bigger picture to the damage this virus can do.

As I walked around a supermarket in Pattaya on Sunday the contrast was startling – Most Thais wore masks and most Westerners did not. This observation has also been noted from a management team I spoke to of a large retail chain in Bangkok.

Whilst in one of their stores, the retailer also overheard one foreigner ask another foreigner not wearing a mask why they were not. He replied he heard it makes no difference and should only be worn if infected. Whilst we still know so little about the transmission of the virus, surely though wearing a mask is better than just taking a chance – and what’s not to say he isn’t infected?

We can see the trends from other countries as the UK and USA risk heading towards levels from worse hit Italy, let us hope they can buck the trend over the coming days but it’s not looking good. Thailand too now seems to be following a trend of daily growth, so it will get worse before it gets better.

I feel very uneasy about writing on such topics, Dan about Thailand is a vehicle to promote everything positive and good in Thailand, but when I see groups of retirees having a beer or walking about blase to the situation it’s just not right.

Whatever is being said, wearing a mask has to be better than not

We all have a role to help Thailand beat this

Once hospital beds get full, that is when you start to see serious problems. We therefore don’t want to see an explosion of infections in Thailand. We all have a role to play therefore to look after each other, getting the basics right like wearing a mask and frequent hand washing is just common sense and decency.

This virus incubates in people for ten days before they see the signs, so you could be mixing with perfectly healthy looking people and become infected.  So, in effect the virus can wreck havoc under the radar and then we see a serious outbreak almost without warning.

When you see the infection rates in ten days (which will be higher than today), that is what you are putting yourself at risk today.

Retiree Expats not wearing masks and continuing to socialise as normal put themselves and friends at risk. It is well documented that the elderly struggle the most with the infection, so why take the risk?

Impact on the economy is huge

But my biggest concern is not the health impacts, as taking into perspective the numbers are still moderate versus the population; but the damage to the economy during this immense disruption.

It is not sustainable for small businesses to keep closed, people forced into unpaid leave have bills to pay and whole sectors like the airline industry will emerge looking very different once the dust settles. Last week, Qantas announced it was grounding its entire international fleet and American Airlines suspended three quarters of its long haul international flights.

At the end of the day Thailand, like other countries, will recover but the uncertainty is huge cause for concern. When and what will the future look like afterwards?

For now, we should do all we can to help the recovery and that starts with wearing a mask, cleaning your hands and restricting unnecessary social contact.

Never in my lifetime have I seen such huge global disruption and pandemic, surely we should all take it seriously so that we can stop the spread and growth?


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