ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Coronavirus

Thailand follows Vietnam with no new coronavirus cases

Bangkok moves cautiously toward easing soft lockdown

People walk through Lumphini Park in Bangkok: Thailand reported zero new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the first time in over two months on May 13. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

BANGKOK -- Thailand achieved an important milestone Wednesday, reporting zero new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the first time in over two months.

According to the Ministry of Public Health, the last time the kingdom reported no daily increase was on March 9. Until Tuesday, Southeast Asia's second-largest economy had recorded single-digit increases for eight consecutive days.

The total number of confirmed cases in Thailand since the outbreak began stood at 3,017, of which 2,844 patients have been discharged from hospitals or quarantine venues.

Apart from countries with relatively minor local epidemics, Thailand became the second large economy in Southeast Asia after Vietnam to bring down the number of new infections. On Friday, Hanoi essentially lifted all restrictions aimed at containing COVID-19. As of Wednesday, Vietnam had gone 27 straight days without logging new local infections. It has reported no deaths since the outbreak.

But it is unlikely that Thailand will rush to follow in Vietnam's footsteps.

The downtrend "does not mean that Thailand will be free from infection," said Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration. "Everyone should maintain his or her 'new normal' life by washing their hands, wearing a mask and keeping their distance," he warned at a news conference on Wednesday.

The kingdom is lifting its soft lockdown measures step by step, while maintaining a state of emergency and curfew until the end of May. The government has a four-phase easing process. Each phase will have a two-week assessment period to ensure that the easing does not create a spike in new patients.

The first step took place on May 3. Businesses such as restaurants, hair salons, wet markets, and golf courses reopened with strict hygiene guidelines. The ban on alcohol sales by retailers has also been lifted.

The lack of new cases on Tuesday will give impetus to further easing on Sunday. On Friday, the government is expected to finalize which types of businesses will reopen in the second phase.

Taweesin on Monday hinted that reopening of shopping malls and department stores is being considered. Outdoor sports stadiums may also be allowed to operate without spectators. Botanical gardens, galleries, public libraries, and foot massage salons are also on the list of possible reopenings.

In the second phase, beauty salons may be allowed to offer a wider range of services, such dyeing and permanents. At present, services are limited to haircuts, shampooing and blow-drying.

The kingdom also has an inbound flight ban through May 31 to screen out potential novel coronavirus carriers from abroad. The ban is likely to remain in effect, as the state of the pandemic varies widely around the world, and even within the region. The Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia continue to report hundreds of cases daily. Malaysia's strict lockdown has brought down daily increases in new infections, but it continues to report double-digit rises.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more