Thailand Raises Covid Alert, Mulls Curbs as Omicron Spreads
(Bloomberg) -- Thailand raised its Covid-19 alert to the second-highest level, which may trigger more containment measures as new infections reached the most in more than a month following New Year celebrations.
The Health Ministry on Thursday heightened the alert level from 3 to 4, a category that includes guidelines to discourage dining and consuming alcohol in restaurants, leaving the house and using public transport as well as traveling abroad.
The infection rate has increased rapidly and authorities will impose new measures to slow the spread, said Permanent Secretary of Public Health Kiattiphum Wongrajit. Some of the measures to be considered at Friday’s meeting of the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration include shutting down high-risk areas, working from home and limiting inter-provincial travel, he said.
Thailand’s currency and stocks declined on concerns that fresh curbs may hurt a nascent economic recovery. The baht fell as much as 1% to 33.523 to a dollar, the most since Nov. 26, and the benchmark stock index tumbled as much as 1.3%, the first drop in six sessions.
The Southeast Asian nation reported 5,775 new infections on Thursday, the highest single-day tally since Dec. 4 and third-straight day of increase, according to data from the CCSA.
Although the delta variant has accounted for the majority of infections in Thailand over the past two months, more omicron cases have been detected in recent weeks, with a surge expected because of travel during the year-end holidays.
Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that while the higher alert level will bring “more limitations on activities,” there has been no decision on whether another lockdown is needed. “The government will try to avoid lockdown to the best of our ability,” he said.
State employees have already been told to work from home for two weeks to reduce the risks of infections, while schools have been advised to hold classes online. The virus task force is expected on Friday to extend the suspension of the country’s quarantine-free entry, and announce new restrictions.
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