New COVID restrictions in Thailand as circumstances rise

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New COVID restrictions went into effect in Thailand on Monday to halt a spiraling outbreak that saw deaths hit a record high of one day over the weekend.

In Bangkok – where the latest outbreak occurred in a nightlife district – as well as in 46 other provinces, wearing masks in public spaces is mandatory, underpinned by the threat of a fine of 20,000 baht (US $ 640).

Authorities in the capital have also closed a number of venues, including cinemas, parks, gyms, swimming pools, spas and kindergartens.

The new restrictions come a week after authorities ordered bars and nightclubs to close restaurants and banned them from serving alcohol.

The tightening comes in some cases due to a spike – the total number of infections hit 57,500 on Monday, up from just 29,000 in early April.

Around 2,048 new cases were announced on Monday, while Thailand recorded the highest death toll on a pandemic day with 11 deaths on Sunday.

By the last outbreak, Thailand had managed to keep infections low thanks to draconian travel restrictions and swift measures to isolate confirmed cases.

However, there have been complaints about the slow adoption of vaccination, with Thailand lagging behind other countries in the region.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said on Facebook the government was trying to source more doses of vaccine and speed up the program to vaccinate 300,000 people a day.

In neighboring Cambodia, also in the grip of a new wave of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on factory owners in the key clothing sector to help protect workers.

"The current outbreaks in factories and markets are a painful reminder of the importance of investing in mitigation measures before cases occur to prevent the virus from spreading," said Li Ailan, WHO representative in Cambodia, in a Explanation.

Li urged factory owners to do more temperature tests and rearrange workshops to allow for social distancing.

Phnom Penh has been on lockdown for 12 days and last week authorities ordered that all wet markets in the city should be closed for 14 days.

Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered stricter enforcement of lockdown measures on Sunday.

Cambodia has reported a total of 9,975 cases and 74 deaths, including 10 on Saturday – a daily record for the country.

Neighboring Laos, which appeared to have escaped the brunt of the pandemic last year, is also seeing a surge, jumping from 58 to 323 cases in less than a week.

The capital, Vientiane, was locked down last week, with authorities banning residents from leaving their homes except for food and going to the hospital.

Follow the latest news on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

© 2021 AFP

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