Thailand decrees state of emergency to control coronavirus

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s government agreed yesterday to declare an emergency to take stricter measures to control the coronavirus outbreak that has infected hundreds of people in the Southeast Asian country.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said his Cabinet agreed to put a one-month state of emergency into effect yesterday.

The move will give the government enforcement powers not normally available to it. They include implementing curfews, censoring the media, dispersing gatherings and allowing deployment of military forces for enforcement.

Prayuth in a brief televised address urged the public to remain calm and warned people against the improper use of social media and hoarding, saying there would now be stricter enforcement against violators.

People practice social distancing as they sit on chairs spread apart in a waiting area for take-away food orders at a shopping mall in hopes of preventing the spread of the coronavirus in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday. (PHOTO: AP)

Thailand also yesterday confirmed 106 new cases of infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the total to 827. Four of the new cases were medical staff. Three deaths were reported, bringing the country’s total to four.

Prayuth’s government had been criticised for failing to take strong action to fight the coronavirus even as the daily increases in cases jumped from single digits in February into the hundreds in the past week.