Thailand bans gatherings as COVID cases and deaths hit new record | Coronavirus pandemic News

New infections cross the 10,000 threshold while 141 new deaths have been reported by the country’s health authorities.

Thailand has imposed a nationwide ban on public gatherings and is considering further restrictions on movement, as authorities reported a record number of new coronavirus cases and deaths on Saturday, despite partial closures in Bangkok and nine other provinces this week.

The country’s COVID-19 task force has reported 10,082 new cases of coronavirus and 141 new deaths, bringing the total number of infections to 391,989 cases and 3,240 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

As of Thursday, authorities said the Delta variant now accounts for nearly 80% of the country’s workload.

A ban on public gatherings has been imposed, with a maximum sentence of two years in prison or a fine of up to 40,000 Thai baht ($ 1,219.88) or both, according to an announcement in the official Royal Gazette late Friday.

The Bangkok Post newspaper reported on Saturday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has called on the military and police to help officials in the capital deploy 200 teams to conduct door-to-door testing. in the worst case. hit parts of the city.

The move aims to “find and isolate those infected to curb the surge in transmissions,” reported The Post.

On Friday, Prayuth said the government was considering more restrictions as the country battles its worst coronavirus outbreak to date, fueled by the highly transmissible Alpha and Delta COVID-19 variants since early April.

“There is a need to expand measures to limit the movement of people as much as possible and close more facilities leaving only the essentials,” Prayuth wrote on his official Facebook page.

Areas considered high-risk in Thailand have been under the tightest restrictions for more than a year since Monday, with restrictions on movement and gatherings, the closure of shopping malls and some businesses and curfews between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.

“Tourist bubble”

Prayuth himself isolated himself for nearly two weeks after coming into contact with a positive case during a visit to Phuket to start a tourism program for foreigners.

Despite the new lockdown and the national outbreak of COVID-19, three other Thai islands have been opened to vaccinated foreign tourists in the country.

The islands – Samui, Tao and Phangan – welcomed visitors Thursday as part of the kingdom’s efforts to revive its struggling tourism industry.

Thailand launched its “sandbox” program on July 1, allowing vaccinated travelers to visit the island of Phuket. Tourists do not have to quarantine themselves in a hotel but cannot leave Phuket for two weeks.

Prime Minister Prayuth has isolated himself for nearly two weeks after coming into contact with a positive case during a visit to Phuket to launch a tourism program for foreigners [File: Thai Government Handout Photo via Reuters]

As part of the expansion of the new tourism plan, visitors are required to stay at an approved hotel in Samui for one week and can vacate their accommodation on the fourth day.

They will need to produce a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to venture into Tao or Phangan after their first week.

Since the opening of the island of Phuket, it has welcomed at least 5,000 foreign tourists, 10 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19.

The authorities do not expect a large influx immediately to Samui and the other two islands.

Koh Samui Tourism Association President Ratchaporn Poolsawadee described the “Samui Plus” program as a smooth opening.

He said 75 percent of the residents of the three islands have been vaccinated.

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