Thailand extends lockdown of 29 provinces as Covid cases reach record highs

Bangkok, Aug 2 (EFE).- Thai authorities have ordered the extension of the lockdown of Bangkok and 28 other provinces from Tuesday to try to halt its worst Covid-19 outbreak of the pandemic and as hospitals are overwhelmed.

The decision comes as Thailand continues to reach record numbers of infections and deaths, which have not been curbed despite weeks of strong restrictions.

The country recorded 17,970 Covid-19 infections and 178 deaths on Monday, after the weekend saw the highest figures (almost 19,000 in one day) since the beginning of the pandemic due to the strong impact of the Delta variant, which is battering Southeast Asia.

The restrictions, which are expected to remain in force in much of the country throughout August, include stay-at-home orders, a curfew from 9 pm, the limitation of gatherings to five people, the closure of almost all commercial and leisure establishments, and travel bans.

Authorities indicated that they plan to meet on Aug. 18 to re-evaluate the measures.

The vaccination campaign, which began in February, is lagging behind the initial schedule presented by the government, and so far just over 5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

The situation of hospitals is critical, especially in the capital, where health centers are overwhelmed, and in some cases, overflowing.

Authorities include data in their daily tallies showing people are dying at home.

Amid mounting public criticism of the government for its management of the vaccination campaign and the outbreak, the administration of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha last week approved an order to prohibit the publishing of any information that “causes public fear,” even if true.

The measure, which includes prison sentences as punishment, has been highly criticized by the opposition, the public and the media, which consider it an attempt by the government to stifle information, criticism and freedom of expression. EFE


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