Thailand mulls more curbs, pleads with people not to travel

BANGKOK: Thailand's government held off ordering new nationwide business shutdowns yesterday amid a wave of coronavirus cases but empowered some provincial governors to set their own restrictions and pleaded with the public not to travel.

Thailand, which had largely controlled the virus by the middle of last year, saw a second wave of outbreaks early last month.

Yesterday, it confirmed 315 new cases, the majority of which are local transmissions, bringing its total to 7,694 cases and 64 deaths since its first case last January.

Samut Sakhon, a province south of Bangkok where the current outbreak started, reported 541 additional cases yesterday. That number will be added to the official tally today, its health official said.

Officials say the current outbreak is linked to illegal border migration from neighbouring Myanmar, Reuters reported.

The government has designated 28 provinces, including Bangkok, as high-risk zones, recommending suspension of some businesses and crowded activities.

Some ministries and agencies have already issued new restrictions, Reuters reported.

The Education Ministry has ordered all public and private schools and vocational training centres to close down from today until the end of the month.


The Thai Retailers Association has also announced that all shopping malls around the country should close at 9pm daily, an hour earlier than the usual closing time, a statement said.

The authorities in Bangkok had earlier closed entertainment venues, nurseries, gyms and massage parlours, while keeping open shopping malls, restaurants and public parks.

Meanwhile, Indonesia was scheduled to start distributing Sinovac Biotech's vaccine, which was developed in China, to all its 34 provinces yesterday.

The country has received three million vaccines from Sinovac, Bloomberg reported.

The distribution will be carried out by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with testing, the Kompas newspaper reported, citing the ministry's vaccination spokesman Siti Nadia Tarmizi.

Indonesia reported more than 758,000 cases as of Saturday, with 22,555 deaths.