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Social Distancing Sharply Lowers Respiratory Illness in Thailand

  • Thais embraced hygiene advice and masks amid lockdown
  • Influenza, pneumonia cases tumble from a year earlier
Passengers sit in socially-distanced seats in the departures terminal at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok on June 3.

Passengers sit in socially-distanced seats in the departures terminal at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok on June 3.

Photographer: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images

Thailand has overcome the novel coronavirus for now by embracing social distancing guidelines and masks amid a lockdown. Those steps also dramatically reduced influenza and pneumonia cases.

Influenza cases in May slid more than 90% to 1,154 from 15,213 a year earlier, according to data from the Health Ministry’s Bureau of Epidemiology. There have been no influenza deaths since February. For pneumonia, there were 8,126 cases in May and six deaths, about half as many as in May 2019.