Thailand weighing more lockdown measures as Covid-19 cases surge

The Thai government also plans to increase the number of Covid-19 tests.
The Thai government also plans to increase the number of Covid-19 tests.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand is considering imposing tighter coronavirus curbs in a bid to contain soaring infections, as the authorities reported on Friday (July 16) 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 9pm and 4am.

"After assessing the measures, there are still concerns," said Ms Apisamai Srirangsan, a spokesman for the government Covid-19 task force. "We may close more places and intensify the measures."

The government also plans to increase the number of Covid-19 tests - currently covering 70,000 to 80,000 people a day - by introducing self-test kits, which will be available from drugstores next week, Ms 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 the 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 one million doses of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine from the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO).

The GPO is due to sign a deal next week to import five million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which should arrive in Thailand some time 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 organisations around the country for general distribution.

Thailand's main vaccine roll-out started last month and has relied mainly on the AstraZeneca and Sinovac shots. The pace of the roll-out has been slower than in some neighbouring countries.

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