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Coronavirus

Thailand extends lockdown for a fortnight as COVID-19 rages

Maximum restrictions, curfew remain around Bangkok as pandemic center

Medical personnel prepare to administer COVID-19 tests at a camp for construction workers  in Bangkok.    © AP

BANGKOK --The Thai government has extended lockdown measures for two more weeks in order to try and bring a severe third wave of COVID-19 under control as confirmed new cases continue to surge.

Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesperson for the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), told reporters on Aug. 16 that the government had decided to extend the lockdown and nighttime curfew, which was due to end on Aug 18, until Aug 31.

Taweesilp said bank branches inside department stores would be allowed to open, but  electronics shops, restaurants, IT and mobile shops would remain closed. He said the CCSA considered that many of services provided by these outlets can be handled smoothly enough online without exposing people to the risk of infection. 

Maximum restrictions and a nightly curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 p.m. are being applied in a dark-red zone of 29 central provinces, including Bangkok. The area is home to around 40% of the population, and generates three-quarters of Thailand's gross domestic product.

COVID-19 cases began to surge in a third much more serious wave after Songkran, the lunar new year holiday, in mid-April. The number of daily confirmed cases shot up from 965 cases on April 13 to a record 23,418 on Aug. 13, and daily cases are expected to remain above 20,000 for some time.

As of Aug 16, Thailand had confirmed 928,314 COVID-19 cases in total with 7,734 deaths.

The CCSA is continuing to test in affected communities, particularly in Bangkok and its environs. It has also required companies with more than 50 employees to create their own isolation wards in order to reduce demand for beds in public and field hospitals. 

Following the lockdown, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council has revised the economic outlook for 2021. It is now forecasting 0.7-1.2% growth, down from the 1.5% to 2.5% predicted three months ago. This is the NESDC's third downward revision.

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