Thailand weighing up more lockdown measures as COVID-19 cases surge


Posted at Jul 16 2021 06:46 PM

Thailand weighing up more lockdown measures as COVID-19 cases surge 1
A man uses his phone at an almost empty road which is usually crowded with people, as lockdown and travel restrictions are imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bangkok, Thailand, July 12, 2021. Soe Zeya Tun, Reuters/file

BANGKOK - Thailand is considering bringing in tighter coronavirus curbs in a bid to contain soaring infections, as authorities reported on Friday a record number of cases despite imposing partial lockdowns in Bangkok and nine other provinces this week.

Since Monday, areas considered high risk in Thailand have been under the toughest restrictions in more than a year, with new curbs on movement and gatherings, the closure of malls and some businesses, and curfews between 9 pm to 4 am.

"After assessing the measures there are still concerns," said Apisamai Srirangsan, a spokeswoman for the government COVID-19 task force.

"We may close more places and intensify the measures," she said.

The government also plans to increase the number of COVID-19 tests which currently cover 70,000-80,000 people per day by introducing home-testing kits which will be available from drugstores next week, Apisamai said.

Thailand on Friday reported a daily record of 9,692 coronavirus infections and 67 new deaths, taking total cases to 381,907 and fatalities to 3,099, as authorities struggle to tackle the country's biggest wave of infections so far.

The Thai health ministry this week also gave the go-ahead for home isolation of coronavirus patients with mild symptoms.

The Thai Red Cross on Friday said it had bought 1 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines from the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO).

The GPO is due to sign a deal next week to import five million doses of the Moderna vaccine that should arrive in Thailand sometime in the fourth quarter or the start of next year.

In a statement, the Red Cross said some vaccines will be administered free of charge for medical personal and vulnerable groups, while others will be sold to organizations around the country for general distribution.

Thailand's main vaccine rollout started last month and has relied mainly on the AstraZeneca and Sinovac shots, though the pace of the rollout has been slower than in some neighboring countries.

More than 5% of its more than 66 million people have been fully vaccinated so far.