Thailand Tightens Virus Curbs to Stem New Wave of Infections
(Bloomberg) -- Thailand ordered the closure of entertainment venues in its capital city and 40 other provinces for at least two weeks to contain a flareup in coronavirus infections ahead of the nation’s biggest annual festival.
Bars, pubs, karaoke and massage parlors will remain closed until April 23, Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said in Bangkok on Friday after the measure was approved by a panel headed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha. Provincial governors will have the power to extend the shutdown or revoke them early if the situation improves, he said.
“All provincial governments have the power to order any other establishments, besides the ones announced today, to close if they are at risk of becoming an epicenter of infections,” Taweesilp said, adding that Thais should avoid any risky activities that may lead to the spread of the virus during the upcoming holiday next week.
Authorities in Bangkok had already shuttered almost 200 nightlife entertainment venues early this week after they emerged as the epicenter of the latest spike with tests showing prevalence of more virulent U.K. variant of the virus. The resurgence in outbreak ahead of the Thai New Year festivities next week is likely to hit hard the economy and delay plans to gradually lift curbs on vaccinated foreign tourists.
Prayuth has ordered state agencies and private hospitals to work together in vaccine procurement in order to get 10 million more vaccine doses, with the aim of inoculating as many as 45 million people to reach herd immunity, according to Taweesilp. The premier also asked private medical facilities to conduct tests on those seeking services and send infected patients to field hospitals or other locations, after reports arose that private hospitals were not conducting tests due to lack of beds.
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang said there are about 3,600 available hospital beds for Covid-19 patients, with one-third under the city’s authority and two-thirds run by private health-care operators. The city can quickly prepare another 700 beds, he said.
Thailand has added more than 2,000 new cases this month with a majority of them traced to the new clusters in Bangkok. The BMA expects to get a delivery of 480,000 vaccine doses on April 15, Pongsakorn said, without specifying which type.
The SET Index rose 0.5% Friday, led by a 4.5% rally in the health-care services gauge. The baht strengthened slightly Friday, but has weakened 2% the past month.
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