Thailand imposes tougher Covid curbs as Delta variants drive surge in infections
More than 10 million people were placed under fresh Covid-19 restrictions and a curfew in the Thai capital Monday, as the kingdom battled a surge of cases worsened by the highly infectious Alpha and Delta variants.
Thailand has so far recorded more than 345,000 cases and 2,791 deaths — with the bulk of them coming in this latest wave that started in April.
First detected in clubs frequented by the Thai elite and politicians at an upscale Bangkok nightlife district, the surge has been exacerbated by a slow vaccine rollout and limited testing capacity.
“The situation is worrying,” said Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
“We have a big toll of new confirmed cases and the Delta strain has spread to other provinces that are home to factories.”
Health authorities also said they are monitoring seven people who have contracted both the Alpha and Delta variants.
In addition to the capital, nine other provinces that have seen steady upticks in infections saw more restrictions bite.
Checkpoints sprung up across Bangkok in the early hours of Monday as a 9 pm-4 am curfew came into force, with police wearing masks and facial shields stopping cars in the centre of the capital.
Residents are barred from gathering in groups of more than five people, while public transport networks will shut from 9 pm.
Supermarkets, restaurants, banks, pharmacies and electronics stores within malls will be able to stay open but other shops have shuttered.
Authorities on Monday also approved the use of administering the Chinese-made Sinovac jab as the first dose and AstraZeneca as the second.
It did not elaborate why the decision was taken but it came after officials announced Sunday that nearly 900 medical staff — the majority of whom had received Sinovac shots — tested positive for the virus.
Health authorities added that medical staff who had already received two Sinovac doses will get a booster AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech shot. (Source: AFP)