Thailand faces tougher travel curbs as officials warn daily Covid-19 cases could hit 30,000

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said it would suspend most domestic flights from high risk provinces from July 21,2021.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said it would suspend most domestic flights from high risk provinces from July 21,2021.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - Travel between Thai provinces with higher risk of Covid-19 infections will come under stricter curbs as the nation faces a rising number of infections.

From Tuesday (July 20), people in Bangkok and 12 other areas deemed dark red zones will need to seek permission for a permit to make inter-provincial trips.

Registration can be done online and approval will be given via a QR code, said Thailand's Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Monday, even as it urged people to reconsider such trips.

Announcing more "targeted" measures for these dark red zones, authorities also said that starting on Tuesday, more shops, including banks located in malls, would be closed, and public transport would operate at half its maximum capacity.

The CCSA also reiterated its request that people in these affected provinces avoid leaving their homes, save for reasons such as medical treatment, vaccination appointments or jobs that cannot be done remotely.

Monday's announcement came just hours after the country logged a fourth consecutive day of record infections with 11,784 new cases.

There were also 81 new deaths reported, bringing the nation's total to 3,422 fatalities and 415,170 cases, many of which were logged in the latest and most severe wave that began in April.

Painting a grim scenario of how the coronavirus situation might deteriorate, the CCSA said the country could see 30,000 new cases daily, as it urged residents to work with the government to avoid this "worst-case scenario".

On Sunday (July 18), Thailand also extended its strictest virus curbs - which include a curfew from 9pm to 4am and a ban on gatherings of more than five people - to three more provinces starting on Tuesday. These rules were imposed on Bangkok and nine other provinces last week.

The restrictions will last until Aug 2 and will be reviewed again, said the CCSA.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand also said it would suspend most domestic flights from these high risk provinces from Wednesday (July 21).

Authorities have been racing to secure more vaccines and said that a deal for 20 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines would be concluded "soon", with an order for 50 million more doses under consideration.

On Sunday, local media reported that Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul was seeking approval to restrict the export of locally made AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine as a way to combat supply shortages.

Thailand has been producing the AstraZeneca vaccine since June and is slated to export it to several South-East Asia countries, including Malaysia and the Philippines.

Thailand's nationwide vaccine roll-out, which started in June, has largely depended on the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines.

So far about 5 per cent of its more than 66 million population have been fully vaccinated.