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Thailand relaxes mask rule to bolster pandemic-hit tourism

Face masks had been compulsory in public since mid-2021

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Thailand relaxes mask rule to bolster pandemic-hit tourism
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Bangkok: Thailand has dropped rules requiring people to wear masks from Friday, the government says, as Covid-19 cases fall and the tourism-dependent kingdom seeks to lure back foreign visitors.

Face masks had been compulsory in public since mid-2021 when the country saw a wave of cases driven by the spread of the Delta variant.

But the kingdom is keen to kickstart its stuttering economy and is relaxing Covid-19 restrictions, including discarding most entry requirements from next month.

"Wearing a surgical mask or cloth mask is a voluntary practice," said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha in a royal gazette announcement issued late Thursday.

The health ministry recommends people continue to wear face masks in crowded or poorly ventilated areas, the statement added, but there was no explicit mention of public transport.

The capital Bangkok's privately-owned metro service later announced, however, that it would still require travelers using its trains to wear masks.

While the shift was not immediately obvious on the streets of the city, many-voiced approval for the policy change.

"The lifting (of restrictions) would allow people to resume their normal life," said Supanya Pajaree, a 26-year-old freelance worker.

American tourist Jake Lucchi was supportive of the move but said he would continue wearing a mask.

"I usually don't wear one but now I see most people are wearing one so I want to be respectful (to) what people are doing," he said.

The Thai government's move comes after Singapore and Cambodia also discarded rules requiring outdoor mask-wearing.

It also comes ahead of the end of the "Thailand Pass" system, which required visitors to register and show proof of vaccination before entering the kingdom.

From July 1, tourists will only have to carry their vaccine certificates or take a Covid-19 test on arrival.

Thailand's economy has faltered in the last two years, with growth hammered by the bitter combination of rising living costs and Covid-19.

The kingdom has endured a precipitous drop in tourism, welcoming 1.6 million foreign tourists during the first six months of 2022, according to government data.

In the first six months of 2019, that figure was just under 20 million, the data showed.

Covid-19 cases and related deaths have now come down from a peak, with the kingdom registering around 2,500 daily infections and fewer than 50 deaths a day for more than a month.

At least three-quarters of the population are double-vaccinated, with around 40 percent also having received a booster shot.

SOURCE: AFP

World

Egypt: Hotel guest dies after falling from 9th floor

Hotel workers found the body of the deceased lying on the street.

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Egypt: Hotel guest dies after falling from 9th floor

Cairo: An elderly man has been killed after falling from the balcony of his room on the ninth floor of a hotel in the Cleopatra area on the Alexandria Corniche, Egypt.  

As per reports, hotel workers found the body of the deceased lying on the street in the early hours of Friday. 

The police, however, were informed and the deceased was taken to the Kom El Dikka morgue. 

Reports quoting sources said that the security forces are intensifying their efforts to uncover the circumstances of the incident— to find out whether there is a criminal suspicion or not.

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Pakistan

Marriyum expresses commitment to protect journalists

Marriyum Aurangzeb said the amendment bill will be finalized after further consultation with the journalists and media organizations.

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Marriyum expresses commitment to protect journalists

Islamabad: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb says a special committee has been formed to finalize the Journalist and Media Professionals Protection (Amendment) Bill 2022.

Talking to a delegation of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist (Dastoor) in Islamabad, she said the committee comprises of representatives from the ministries and media organizations concerned.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said the amendment bill will be finalized after further consultation with the journalists and media organizations.

She said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, soon after coming into power, initiated the process of abolishing all the anti-media laws and regulations.

She said it is the foremost priority of the coalition government to protect journalists and ensure provision of conducive working environment for them.

The Information Minister urged media organizations and journalists to play a proactive role in curbing fake news and propaganda.

The delegation apprised the minister of the problems and professional issues faced by the journalists.

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World

Death count rises to 20 in India's Manipur landslide

Unprecedented rains lashed India’s northeastern states and neighbouring Bangladesh, killing more than 150 people.

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Death count rises to 20 in India's Manipur landslide

Rescuers in India's northeast have recovered 20 dead bodies from the site of a landslide that buried a railway construction camp, the army said, after a second day of search efforts.

As per details, security forces and disaster relief teams are still racing to rescue dozens more feared trapped under debris.

Reportedly, most of the victims were reserve soldiers from the Territorial Army who had been working on the railway project.

Experts say climate change is increasing the number of extreme weather events around the world, with damming, deforestation and development projects in India exacerbating the human toll.

This month, unprecedented rains lashed India’s northeastern states and neighbouring Bangladesh, killing more than 150 people.

Millions have been displaced by the catastrophic floods in recent weeks, and in some low-lying areas, houses have been submerged.

Army helicopters were on standby and assisting in rescue operations at the site of the landslide, a statement from the Indian army said.

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