Thailand Bans Gatherings as Covid Cases, Deaths Hit Record
(Bloomberg) -- Thailand banned gatherings nationwide and may implement further restrictions as the country saw daily coronavirus cases and deaths surge to fresh records.
The Southeast Asian nation reported 10,082 new infections on Saturday, exceeding 10,000 for the first time, despite the imposition of lockdown-like restrictions since Monday. There were 141 deaths, data from the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration show.
The ban on public gatherings will take effect immediately, according to a Royal Gazette announcement published late Friday. Anyone found in violation of the order faces two years in prison or a 40,000 baht ($1,200) fine or both.
Thai officials are grappling with a wave of infections stemming from the highly contagious delta variant. A virus management panel headed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha is considering shuttering more types of businesses after people violated earlier bans on inter-provincial travel, gatherings of more than five people and an overnight curfew.
The delta variant has spread very quickly as people from the capital have continued to travel to other provinces, which puts a strain on the public health system, Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the department of disease control at the Ministry of Public Health, said in a briefing on Saturday.
More measures will be needed to limit travel, otherwise Thailand may see increased infections and deaths over the next three to four months, Opas added, without mentioning what measures will be announced.
“Curbs on people’s movements haven’t done enough,” Prayuth said in a statement on social media. “We will have to consider tightening measures, otherwise the situation may escalate to the point where it will have serious consequences for the public health system.”
Thailand’s cumulative infections and deaths now total 391,989 and 3,240 respectively. More than 360,000 of those cases have come since early April, mostly in Bangkok. The latest outbreak threatens to derail the economy’s expansion. The Bank of Thailand has warned that it may revise down this year’s forecast for 1.8% growth in gross domestic product if the wave is prolonged, while the World Bank may trim its estimate to 1.2% from 2.2%.
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