Bangkok, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- Thai authorities announced Friday their intention to extend until Sep. 31 the state of emergency decreed to combat COVID-19, despite registering no local infections for almost three months and in the context of massive student demonstrations against the government.
The Center for Managing the COVID-19 Situation (CCSA), which includes a number of experts and leaders, including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and Minister of Health Anuntin Charnvirakul, reported today the fifth extension since the start of the pandemic.
The authorities argued that the measure is necessary to maintain control over people arriving from abroad and despite almost 90 days without detecting local infections.
Thailand confirmed a new imported case of infection with COVID-19, reaching 3,390 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 58 deaths, of which 171 cases are still active.
In recent weeks, thousands of university and school students have taken to the streets of various cities, especially Bangkok, to protest the government of Prayuth, the general who led a coup in 2014 and regained premiership in 2018 following an election deemed free but not fair.
Protesters are calling for democratic reforms and reductions in the power of the military and the monarchy.
Between Wednesday and Thursday, police detained nine people for their connection to the protests on charges of sedition, punishable by up to seven years in prison, and of violating the ban on demonstrations during the pandemic, among other charges.
Thailand is also facing a harsh economic impact, with a forecast for this year of a fall of between 7.2 and 7.8 percent of GDP, since the pandemic has slowed exports and has forced the closure of borders and the suspension of the lucrative international tourism sector. EFE-EPA