Thailand faces widespread outbreaks ahead of New Year’s trip

Bangkok (AP) — Thai authorities struggled on Friday to contain the growing coronavirus outbreak just days before the country’s traditional Songkran New Year’s Day, when millions of people travel around the country. It was.

Health officials reported an additional 559 new infections nationwide on Friday, after an increase in 405 new cases and 334 new cases over the past two days. Authorities have ordered the closure of entertainment venues in 41 states for two weeks starting Saturday, and some state governors have restricted the arrival of travelers from elsewhere.

In Thailand, such an increase in daily new infections is rare. Thailand has survived the coronavirus pandemic much better than many countries through measures such as strict border controls that have eroded the country’s lucrative tourism industry. Thailand has also experimented with everything from curfew and alcohol bans to the closure of schools, shopping centers and restaurants.

Travelers and businesses alike wanted to be able to proceed with this year’s Songkran vacation without a surge in infection. The official holiday was canceled last year to slow the spread of the disease because it came because the country was experiencing the first outbreak.

State authorities are allowed to set quarantine rules for people from high-risk areas such as Bangkok, but the country has so far refused to issue full travel restrictions this year. .. Some states do so, questioning many people’s travel plans.

The current outbreak is the largest outbreak the country has seen since its outbreak in December, centered on the fresh food market, which employs many migrant workers from Myanmar. However, this outbreak dates back to many bars and nightlife venues in central Bangkok. Some of them are popular with wealthy and powerful people. Currently, cases are increasing in at least 20 states, and officials say that some infected individuals have more contagious variants of the virus that was first detected in the United Kingdom.

The case, which infected at least one minister and forced many other ministers to self-quarantine, has heightened criticism of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s response to the government and its pandemic. Although only 30,869 infections and 96 deaths have been recorded in Thailand since the outbreak of the pandemic, critics say the government has taken adequate steps to vaccinate and support people whose livelihoods have been wiped out by the pandemic. He states that he has not taken it.

Thailand is vaccinated well below 1% of 69 million people, and the supply of Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines is relatively low. There have been some notable vaccination events, including recent vaccinations of workers in closed recreational facilities in areas affected by the recent outbreak, but when the general public can be vaccinated. There is no clear timetable for yet.

The government’s response to recent outbreaks has traditionally focused on closing nightlife facilities. Earlier this week, Bangkok city officials ordered the closure of all nightspots in the three affected districts. The country’s central authority to control the status of the coronavirus expanded to 41 state bars, nightclubs and karaoke parlors that Friday.

Bangkok authorities have set up mass inspection sites in some of the affected neighborhoods, attracting large numbers of people who often have to wait in line for hours. Efforts to find potential infections are complicated by the fact that many hospitals in Bangkok have stated that they will suspend the COVID-19 test due to a lack of chemicals needed to process the test.

The government has ordered a field hospital to be set up to handle the surge in patients, and said vacant rooms in hotels in Bangkok could be modified to accommodate infected people as the number continues to grow.