Coronavirus cases surge in Thailand as spike is mostly driven by jail outbreaks

Coronavirus cases surge in Thailand as spike is mostly driven by jail outbreaks
People wait to receive a Covid jab in Bangkok, Thailand (AP/Anuthep Cheysakron)

Thailand has reported 9,635 new coronavirus cases – doubling the previous daily record set last week – with more than 70% of the increase coming from prisons.

Thailand’s confirmed case total rose to 111,082, of which almost three-quarters – 82,219 – have been recorded since the beginning of April this year, when a new wave of coronavirus infections began.

Twenty-five deaths were reported on Monday, bringing the total number to 614.

Health authorities in Thailand reported 9,635 new confirmed Covid cases on Monday (AP/Anuthep Cheysakron)

Thailand had about 7,100 cases including 63 deaths in all of last year, in what was regarded as a success story in containing the virus.

The capital, Bangkok, accounted for 1,843 of Monday’s new cases, with no signs of decline, said Taweesilp Visanuyotin, spokesperson for the government’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. He said half of the city’s 50 districts have high rates of infection.

Despite no downturn in infections, restaurants in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces were allowed on Monday to resume indoor dining until 9pm, with seating limited to 25% of capacity. Since May 1 they had only been allowed to provide takeaway service.

Bangkok officials said closures would be extended for two more weeks for schools, entertainment venues, cinemas, fitness clubs and sports arenas.

The current wave was traced to nightspots in popular Bangkok entertainment districts. But 28 virus clusters have now been identified across 19 districts, including markets, slums, low-income housing and construction sites.

The Corrections Department announced that in the first half of this month, it conducted Covid-19 tests on 24,357 inmates in eight prisons, five of them in Bangkok, and about half tested positive.

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