Thailand reports COVID daily record, driven by prison outbreaks

Southeast Asian nation reports 9,635 new cases on Monday, as it scrambles to contain third wave of coronavirus.

Prisoners who test positive for COVID-19 are quarantined at a field hospital [File: Department of Corrections via EPA]

Thailand reported 9,635 new coronavirus cases on Monday – a daily record – with more than 70 percent of the cases among people in prison, as the Southeast Asian country scrambles contain a third wave of the virus.

Thailand’s COVID-19 task force said 6,853 of the new cases came from the country’s notoriously overcrowded jails, bringing the country’s overall total since the pandemic began last year to 111,082.

Authorities said 25 people also died from the disease, bringing the death toll to 614.

Thailand, which a population of 69 million, has yet to ramp up its COVID-19 vaccination programme.

It has so far administered 2.2 million doses to front-line workers and high-risk groups using vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech and AstraZeneca.

A health worker takes a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 from a man fin the Klong Toey neighbourhood of Bangkok earlier this month [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

A broader vaccination drive is expected to start in June with doses of AstraZeneca manufactured locally. Vaccine registration opened to the public this weekend with a goal of inoculating 70 percent of adults.

The government has tightened restrictions on daily life in an attempt to stamp out the surge in infections.

Measures have also been stepped up in prisons with all inmates required to wear face masks and wash their hands frequently. The Correction Department is also setting up a laboratory to test inmates for the virus.

Thai media have also reported that vaccination will also be rolled out in prisons next month, starting with those who are high risk or over the age of 60.

Thai prisons currently hold about 310,000 people.

Local media reported the cases announced in Monday came from eight jails with the Chiang Mai prison in the north recording the most cases, followed by the Bangkok Remand Prison.

Source: Reuters