BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand has tightened coronavirus restrictions further as daily cases surpassed 10,000 and the death toll hit a record 141 on Saturday despite an overnight curfew in Bangkok and several other provinces.
The surge since April has overwhelmed hospitals, strained the economy and thrown tourism recovery plans in doubt. The vaccine rollout, hindered by supply problems, is slugging with some 5% of the population fully vaccinated and 15% only partially.
Cases have been climbing particularly in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. The government imposed additional measures overnight including a ban on any gatherings and activities that can spread the virus, including anti-government rallies that have criticized Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s handling of the pandemic.
Violators face up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to 40,000 baht ($1,220).
Thai health authorities said Wednesday they will seek to impose limits on exports of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine because the country doesn’t have enough for its own needs. Production of the AstraZeneca jabs at a Thai factory has fallen short of its target, likely delaying the government’s plan to acquire a total of 61 million doses until next May.
Prayuth has earlier announced plans to allow the entry of vaccinated travelers without requiring them to quarantine on arrival starting in mid-October. Since July 1, the government has reopened the tourist island of Phuket to fully vaccinated tourists under strict health conditions including staying on the island for 14 days while being tested for COVID-19. It had previously vaccinated most Phuket residents.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Thailand has reported 391,989 confirmed cases and 3,240 fatalities.