Bangkok ranked second-tier Covid-19 risk as Thai lockdown held off

Dancers wait for customers outside a bar on an entertainment street in Bangkok on Nov 20, 2020.
Dancers wait for customers outside a bar on an entertainment street in Bangkok on Nov 20, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - Thailand's capital was rated a second-tier coronavirus risk zone as the government stopped short of imposing wider restrictions to stem an outbreak of infections that erupted in a nearby coastal province.

The country reported 67 new coronavirus cases on Thursday (Dec 24), of which 58 were locally transmitted, taking Thailand's total recorded infections to 5,829. About a fifth of the total cases were reported in the past week, with more than 1,300 added since Sunday after a cluster was found in Samut Sakhon province neighboring Bangkok.

"Thailand is ready to cope with the current outbreak situation," Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said at a briefing in Bangkok. "The important thing is that health experts still confirm that we can contain this."

Bangkok is one of four areas bordering the epicentre of the latest outbreak that were ranked as posing a second-tier risk of catching coronavirus.

Samut Sakhon, where the cluster emerged around workers at seafood processing plants, was ranked the riskiest on a scale of four based on the danger of contagion.

Thailand in June scrapped most lockdown measures imposed from late March to bolster the economy after locally transmitted coronavirus cases diminished. A nationwide state of emergency remains in place that allows the authorities to impose restrictions quickly if deemed necessary.

Bangkok's provincial administration on Wednesday ordered all of its schools closed until Jan 3, while some sports clubs announced closures until further notice. Measures to curtail infections have been left to the administrators of Thailand's 77 provinces.

Most of the country's provinces are considered lower risk, and activities including New Year celebrations can still be held, with appropriate measures to prevent infections, according to Mr Taweesilp Witsanuyotin, the spokesman for the government's Covid-19 Centre.