Thailand reports record virus cases, Bangkok eases lockdown

BANGKOK (AP) – Thailand was stepping up efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus in labor camps, factories and markets as the number of new cases reported rose to its highest level on Monday.

A government spokesperson said public health officials are meeting with labor and industry representatives to discuss better ways to reduce infections that are clustered in crowded and high-risk places.

The government reported 5,485 new cases on Monday, including nearly 2,000 in prisons. Confirmed deaths have increased by 19, bringing the total to 1,031 since the start of the pandemic.

Still, the governor of Bangkok has said the city will ease some restrictions in the event of a pandemic, reopening parks, massage parlors and beauty salons, but with precautions such as mandatory masks. Other limits remain in place, such as closing bars and entertainment venues and banning the serving of alcohol in restaurants.

Thailand has succeeded in largely containing the outbreaks, at a high economic cost, especially to tourism, as foreign visitors are largely barred from entering the country. That changed in early April, when a cluster of cases focusing on Bangkok bars and clubs spread as many people were traveling during the Thai New Year holidays from one year to the next. week.

The total number of confirmed cases has now risen to 159,792, of which 82% occurred during the last outbreak. Most cases are concentrated in prisons, housing for construction workers, factories, slums and social housing areas.

Last week, workers protested the conditions at the factory where they worked in Petchaburi, central Thailand. Photos posted online showed workers quarantined in a large empty building, with blankets arranged in rows on a concrete floor.

The Cal-Comp Electronics (Thailand) factory, one of the largest electronics suppliers to large companies like Western Digital, Seagate, Hewlett Packard and Panasonic, closed for 14 days as of May 21 and reported on Friday 3 730 confirmed cases.

Company officials addressed questions to the provincial government, which said a prolonged blackout had increased frustration among workers, but conditions improved with the provision of more water. , better food and fans to circulate the air better.

Bangkok reported 1,356 cases on Monday. A spokesperson for the government’s Coronavirus Center, Apisamai Srirangsan, said the capital was dealing with 45 clusters.

Authorities were looking at ways to prevent infections from spreading between workers who live, work and travel nearby.

“We noticed that workers from different factories sometimes live in the same area and the virus has spread to other places. Or another assumption is that a lot of them work as contractors, so they have to move from site to site all the time, ”Apisamai said.

In parts of Bangkok and elsewhere, workers have been ordered to stay inside construction sites.

So far, about 3.3% of the country’s roughly 69 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The government has only obtained 7 million doses of the vaccine in total.

The government has negotiated for more supplies that would allow it to completely inoculate around 70% of the population by the end of the year. His previous plans would only have allowed about 45% of the population to be vaccinated.

The government has been pushing to reopen the country to tourism, even as it strives to quell this latest and greatest epidemic as the pandemic strangles the economy.

Central bank governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput believes growth may not return to pre-pandemic levels until the start of 2023, the Bangkok Post and other local media said at a seminar on Monday.

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