Thailand tightens measures as daily cases cross 10,000

Thailand has tightened coronavirus restrictions and warned of further measures as daily cases surpassed 10,000 and the death toll hit a record 141 despite an overnight curfew in Bangkok and several other provinces

The surge since April has overwhelmed hospitals, strained the economy and thrown tourism recovery plans in doubt. The vaccine rollout, hindered by supply problems, is slugging with some 5% of the population fully vaccinated and 15% only partially.

Cases have been climbing particularly in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. The government imposed additional measures overnight including a ban on any gatherings and activities that can spread the virus, including anti-government rallies that have criticized Prayuth’s handling of the pandemic.

Violators face up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to 40,000 baht ($1,220).

Prayuth said the forthcoming additional measures seek to limit people’s mobility as much as possible, close down virtually all non-essential places and implement strict work from home. He said the government’s medical committee will discuss and study the lockdown measures in other countries carefully before approving the new ones.

To ease the pressure on hospitals, Prayuth said authorities are considering allowing people to test themselves at home with antigen test kits.

He has earlier announced plans to allow the entry of vaccinated travelers without requiring them to quarantine on arrival starting in mid-October. Since July 1, the government has reopened the tourist island of Phuket to fully vaccinated tourists under strict health conditions including staying on the island for 14 days while being tested for COVID-19. It had previously vaccinated most Phuket residents.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Thailand has reported 391,989 confirmed cases and 3,240 fatalities.

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