Thailand on Monday notched yet another record for daily coronavirus cases, recording 11,784 infections, with only 100 of them found in prisons.
The tally brings the country to 50,000 new cases in the past five days as the government prepares to launch tighter restrictions to break the rising tide of infection and death. July 19 saw another 81 fatalities reported.
The Royal Gazette on Sunday carried an announcement that reclassified three provinces – Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao and Chonburi – as “deep red” or maximum control and strict control area, bringing to the Central and Eastern provinces the same hard curfews and business closures in place in 10 provinces in metropolitan Bangkok and the Deep South for the past two weeks.
The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration also extended the existing “dark red” restrictions for another two weeks.
Tuesday, however, brings more control to the maximum-control areas. A “suggested” stay-at-home order will be in place during 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the public told to stay home unless necessary. While there will be no fines or jail time for those leaving home, authorities said they considered the only legitimate reasons to be out are to purchase food or medicine, seek medical attention or Covid-19 vaccinations or to go to work when working at home isn’t possible.
All non-essential businesses remain closed but those permitted to stay open – supermarkets, convenience stores and takeout restaurants – must now close at 8 p.m. The hard curfew continues from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand also announced that, starting Wednesday, no domestic flights to or from Bangkok and other dark red areas will be allowed, with exceptions for medical flights, emergency landings and flights serving the Phuket “sandbox” or “Samui Plus” tourism schemes.
The public, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly intolerant of the government’s mismanagement of the Covid-19 epidemic and the national vaccination strategy. Anger erupted on the streets of Bangkok Sunday with protestors dumping wrapped “bodies” representing the thousands who have died from Covid-19 since last year.
While the Central Vaccination Center said Sunday that foreigners age 75 or older can now walk-in for Covid-19 jabs at the Bang Sue Central Station, the larger problem of vaccine supply is pushing the government into blowing holes in its foreign policy.
The government now is threatening to bar exports of locally made AstraZeneca vaccine earmarked for other Asian countries including Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia, which currently is the world’s biggest coronavirus hotspot and is in more desperate need of the Thailand-produced vaccines than Thailand is.