Thailand is set to expand its quasi-lockdown measures to its regions that are hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic and home to about 40% of the population.
The most stringent restrictions in 13 provinces, including the capital Bangkok and its surrounding regions, will be
extended to August 31, and those curbs will be expanded to 16 additional provinces from Tuesday, according to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.
Some of the measures include closures of non-essential shops in shopping malls, a ban on dine-in services at restaurants and on gatherings of more than five people, a nighttime curfew from 9 pm to 4 am and restrictions on inter-provincial travel. The affected regions account for three quarters of Thailand’s gross domestic product.
The nation’s Covid-19 task force will assess the outbreak situation after two weeks and may ease curbs for some regions on August 18, spokeswoman Apisamai Srirangsan said.
Similar to many of its Southeast Asian peers, Thailand is grappling with a surge in Covid cases fueled by the more contagious delta variant. The country reported 18,027 new infections and 133 deaths, with more than 200,000 active cases and nearly 5,000 patients in critical condition.
The Thai public-health system has been overwhelmed with the spike in infections and hospitalisations, forcing authorities to add more hospital beds and advise home and community isolation for patients with mild symptoms. The country has administered 17.7 million doses of vaccines to date, leaving a large section of its population of 70 million still vulnerable.
Thousands of protesters joined dozens of “car mob” events across Thailand to demand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha’s resignation. They criticised the government’s handling of the outbreak that has led to 4,990 deaths in the country and the slow vaccination rollout that has seen only 5.5% of the population fully inoculated.