Thailand reports daily record of more than 20,000 COVID-19 cases

Government has hinted strict curbs could be extended until the end of August amid surging cases.

The new cases and fatalities reported in Thailand on Wednesday brought total infections to 672,385 and deaths to 5,503, data from the health ministry's website showed [ Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP]

Thailand has reported 20,200 new coronavirus cases and 188 additional deaths – both records since the start of the pandemic last year – increasing the likelihood that virus-related restrictions will be extended.

The new cases and fatalities reported on Wednesday brought total cases to 672,385 and deaths to 5,503, data from the health ministry’s website showed.

The country recorded its previous high of daily COVID-19 cases at 18,912 and record-high daily fatalities at 178 just last Saturday.

A day later, the government tightened containment measures in the capital of Bangkok and several high-risk provinces, with the rules likely to remain in place until the end of August in a bid to slow an outbreak fuelled by the highly transmissible Delta and Alpha variants.

The restrictions, which took effect on Tuesday, include curbs on travel, mall closures and curfews covering 29 provinces classified as “dark red zones”.

The move will be reviewed on August 18.

Apisamai Srirangsan, a spokeswoman for the government’s COVID-19 task force, has said that if the situation does not improve, the “curbs will be extended to August 31”.

She noted that the number of infections in the provinces was now higher than in Bangkok, so containment measures had to be tightened to curb the spread.

‘Worst-case scenario’

Last month, the government called on people to follow the restrictions, warning that daily cases could reach 30,000 under a “worst-case scenario”.

The curbs have hit economic activity; the finance ministry on Thursday slashed its 2021 economic growth forecast to 1.3 percent from 2.3 percent seen earlier.

Thailand started its mass vaccination drive in June and aims to inoculate 50 million people by the end of the year.

But so far, only 5.8 percent of its more than 66 million population are fully vaccinated, while about 21 percent have received at least one dose.

The COVID-19 health emergency has triggered a backlash against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, with protesters taking to the streets in the past weeks to call for his resignation.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters