Thailand imposes new restrictions amid coronavirus outbreak

BANGKOK (AP) — Officials in the Thai capital have announced new restrictions, including the closure of some entertainment facilities during the New Year’s holiday, as infections continued to rise following a recent coronavirus outbreak.

After months of seeming to have the COVID-19 situation under control, Thailand has seen two major clusters developing since mid-December that threatened to undo its progress.

One has mainly infected hundreds of migrant workers from Myanmar at a seafood market near Bangkok, the capital, while in recent days a cluster has grown connected to a gambling den in an eastern province.

As part of the restrictions announced on Monday, entertainment centres in Bangkok were ordered by the city government to close from yesterday until January 4. Restaurants will be allowed to remain open during this period, but must close at midnight and adhere to social distancing requirements.

Thailand reported 155 new coronavirus infections yesterday morning. Of those, 134 were local transmissions, 11 were migrant workers and 10 were from state quarantine, according to the government’s COVID-19 coordinating centre.

Residents wait for a bus along Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok. PHOTO: AP

Meanwhile, the latest COVID-19 death in nearly two months in Thailand was confirmed on Monday. The victim was a 45-year-old parking attendant at an entertainment centre in Rayong province, on Thailand’s eastern seaboard. Rayong Governor Channa Leamsang confirmed at least 148 active cases linked to the entertainment centre yesterday.

The man who died had chronic heart disease and diabetes and his coronavirus test came back positive on Sunday, according to Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutecha, On Monday morning, he became tired and gasped for air before he stopped breathing on the way to a hospital.

In response to the outbreak in Rayong, officials have announced a widespread shutdown, including schools and other entertainment venues, beauty parlours and department stores. Restaurants in the province will be allowed to operate for takeaway only.

The early closing times for restaurants in Bangkok means that New Year’s celebrations are likely to be strongly muted. Some popular midnight-countdown venues, including in the city’s central shopping district and along the riverside, had already cancelled live concerts and other activities, but some fireworks displays are scheduled to go ahead as planned.