A nurse at the hospital during COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in April 2020

Thailand hits new record of nearly 1,000 COVID-19 cases per day

BANGKOK – Thailand’s health ministry warned Sunday about tightening restrictions to reduce infections from a new wave of coronavirus after the country set a record number of daily cases.

The government confirmed 985 new infections on Monday, the highest on record for a 24-hour period, bringing Thailand’s total to 33,610 cases since January last year, including 97 deaths. The growing outbreak came after the country kept the virus at bay for much of last year.

If cases continue to rise in two weeks, new restrictions beyond those currently in place on nightlife and social distancing will be required, said Dr. Sophon Lamsirithaworn, deputy director general of the Department of Disease Control.

Most of the recent cases stem from an outbreak that emerged last month at several nightlife entertainment venues in Bangkok, Sophon said. He commented that people should work from home and exercise greater surveillance.

Tests on those infected in Bangkok nightclubs revealed that some patients contracted the UK coronavirus variant, which has proved to be more infectious than the original strain.

The rapid increase in cases has been most pronounced in the capital, as well as in the tourist destinations of Chiang Mai and Chon Buri province, where the coastal resort of Pattaya is located.

As the country’s trade and transportation hub, Bangkok is a potential vector for any disease transmission.The risk increases this week, when Songkran, the Thai New Year, is celebrated, a vacation when thousands of people usually leave the capital to celebrate with their families in their hometowns.

Despite the risk, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha did not issue any travel restrictions between provinces last week when he announced measures to combat the spread of the virus.

The government ordered the closure of entertainment centers in 41 provinces for 14 days. Provincial governors were given the authority to impose additional measures, including restrictions on entry, closures of establishments, curfews and diagnostic tests on visitors from other provinces.


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