Thailand plans more travel limits as COVID deaths hit record

Thailand bans public gatherings as coronavirus cases and deaths hit daily records Reuters

A man undergoes a free coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a rapid antigen mass testing station as the spread of COVID-19 continues, in Bangkok, Thailand, July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

BANGKOK, July 17 (Reuters) - Thailand is looking to introduce more restrictions on movement as authorities on Saturday reported record numbers of new cases and deaths, despite partial lockdowns in Bangkok and nine other provinces this week.

The country's COVID-19 task force reported 10,082 new coronavirus cases and 141 additional deaths, both daily records and bringing total infections to 391,989 cases and fatalities to 3,240 since the pandemic started.

"From the current situation we predict that if we don't introduce more measures there will be more infections and deaths in large numbers for the next three to four months," Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said, advising people to stay at home as much as possible and avoid travel between provinces.

Thailand has already imposed a nationwide ban on public gatherings which carries a maximum penalty of a two-year jail term or a fine of up to 40,000 baht ($1,220), or both, an announcement on the official Royal Gazette published late on Friday showed.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the government is considering more restrictions as the country battles its worst coronavirus outbreak yet, fuelled by the highly transmissible Alpha and Delta COVID-19 variants.

"There is a need to expand measures to limit people's movement as much as possible and closing more facilities, leaving only the essentials," Prayuth said on his official Facebook page on Friday.

Areas considered high risk in Thailand have since Monday been under the toughest restrictions in more than a year, involving curbs on movement and gatherings, the closure of malls and some businesses, and curfews between 9 pm to 4 am. read more

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Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um Editing by Kim Coghill and David Holmes

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