Update: Health officials Friday afternoon announced a raft of new hardship measures targeting Thailand’s 18 hardest-hit areas, which include the capital.
With the New Year’s holiday ending in consecutive days of record-high cases, Thailand is bracing for stringent new public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
After cases peaked at 1,543 yesterday, health authorities today are expected to announce new measures this afternoon up to and including limited restaurant opening hours, school closures, and whether curfews and inter-provincial travel restrictions will be imposed.
Though Songkran travel was much lower than usual, enough people made trips that could further distribute the third-wave outbreak beyond the capital, despite last-minute travel restrictions imposed last week.
At around 4pm, national health authorities are expected to address the nation about the new measures, with broadcasters asked to air the segment live, according to Voice TV news anchor Teerat Ratanasevi.
Satit Pitudecha of the Health Ministry said it’s possible that Bangkok and a number of other provinces designated COVID-19 red zones – including Chiang Mai, Chonbburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Phuket, Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani and Khon Kaen – would likely see stricter rules enforced.
While no curfews have yet to be proposed, Satit said that they have not ruled out their necessity in case, as happened last year, the infection rate does not come down.
Some proposed rules include restaurants in severe-risk “red” zones closing at 9pm while those in less strict “orange” provinces being ordered to close by 11pm. Alcohol service would be barred at both levels. Amusement parks and cinemas may as well get shut down, too.
Bars and brothels in 41 provinces have already been ordered shut until at least April 23 and the public is urged to work from home. All department stores and shopping malls will close at 9pm for the foreseeable future, the retailers association announced Wednesday.
With new cases exceeding 1,000 for the first time two days in a row, mandatory hospitalization is stretching limited resources, namely hospital beds. Bangkok Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang said those who have contracted COVID-19 can call 1668, 1669 or 1330 hotlines 24/7 for help from the authorities.
Thailand on Thursday announced 1,543 new COVID-19 infections without any new deaths, bringing the total infections to 37,453 and fatalities to 97 since the outbreak began in January 2020. The new confirmed cases were found in more than 60 provinces nationwide, with the most in Bangkok: 409 cases.