BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s health ministry said on Thursday it had proposed new travel curbs and tighter restrictions in high-risk areas to contain COVID-19 cases, as the country reported a daily record of 75 deaths from the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is due to consider the new restrictions in a meeting on Friday.
“We may need to impose tougher restriction to limit travel, stop group activities, close more facilities and take other measures that are necessary,” Prayuth said, adding a decision would be announced after the COVID-19 task force meeting.
The health ministry has proposed measures to limit people’s travel from their home and a curb on inter-provincial travel as well as closing non-essential venues and areas that attract crowds, said health ministry permanent secretary Kiatiphum Wongrajit.
The rules would be in place for 14 days and would cover the Bangkok metropolitan area and “buffer zones”, Kiatiphum said, without elaborating.
“This has similar intensity as April 2020,” he said referring to lockdown measures last year that included a nationwide curfew.
Currently, Thailand has in place measures in “high-risk zones”, including Bangkok and surrounding provinces, to close malls early and prohibit dining in at restaurants, but they have not been able to halt an acceleration of infections in the past month.
The health ministry has also been expanding hospital capacity in Bangkok including a plan to convert the newly built terminal at Suvarnabhumi International Airport into a field hospital with 5,000 beds by August.
Thailand’s COVID-19 task force on Thursday reported 7,058 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number in the country to 308,230. The country has recorded 2,462 fatalities since the pandemic started last year.
(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat, Chayut Setboonsarng and Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Ed Davies)