Prison clusters skyrocket Thailand’s record Covid-19 infections

Bangkok, May 17 (EFE).- At least 6,850 Covid-19 cases were detected in crowded prisons of Thailand, authorities said on Monday, sparking concerns over one of the largest sources of the current coronavirus outbreak.

Almost 50 percent of 22,120 prisoners across eight jails have tested positive for the coronavirus since the beginning of May. The results of over 2,230 are pending.

The Thai government said it provided protection and treatment to all the inmates and had transferred the infected to field hospitals.

Meanwhile, those with symptoms are in hospitals.

The vast majority of cases in prisons were in Bangkok, the epicenter of the current outbreak, and to a lesser extent in jails in the northern Chiang Mai.

Among those infected are several student activists in pre-trial detention for violating Thailand’s harsh lese majeste law.

The harsh law carries a punishment of between three to 15 years in prison for insulting the king or the monarchy.

Some of the jailed activists walked free on bail last week.

Thailand’s health authorities also recorded another 2,773 new cases and 25 deaths across the country on Monday.

It takes the total number of Covid-19 infections in Thailand since the pandemic began to 111,082, including 614 deaths.

Thailand began vaccinating its almost 70 million population against Covid-19 on Feb. 28.

But it has so far only inoculated about 2.26 million people with at least one dose and just over 781,000 people, or 1.18 percent of its population, with two.

The country has re-implemented measures, such as the closure of bars and nightlife establishments, to control the ongoing outbreak linked to the spread of the UK variant of the virus.

Starting Monday, the authorities will allow restaurants in the highest risk provinces, including Bangkok, to dine in until 9 pm with only 25 percent of the tables. EFE


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