Thailand imposes new Covid restrictions amid growing cases

Bangkok, Thailand: On Monday, 19 restrictions went into effect in Thailand in an attempt to stem a spiraling epidemic that saw deaths reach a new high in a single day over the weekend.

Masks are now needed in public spaces in Bangkok, as well as 47 other provinces, with some locations threatening a 20,000 baht ($640) fine if they do not comply.

Cinemas, parks, gyms, swimming pools, spas, and nurseries have all been closed by authorities in the capital.

The new rules come after authorities ordered bars and nightclubs to close and restaurants to stop selling alcohol a week ago.

The tightening comes as the overall number of infections rose to 57,500 on Monday, up from just 29,000 in early April.

On Monday, 2,048 new cases were announced. Thailand had reported its highest single-day death toll of the pandemic the day before, with 11 deaths.

Thailand had managed to hold infections to a minimum before the new outbreak, thanks to tight travel restrictions and quick action to isolate reported cases.

However, there have been concerns about the slow vaccination rollout in Thailand, which has fallen behind other countries in the region.

On Facebook, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha stated that the government was working to obtain more doses and increase the program's capacity to inoculate 300,000 people every day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged factory owners in the main textile sector to help protect workers in neighboring Cambodia, which is also dealing with a recent coronavirus outbreak.

In a quote, Li Ailan, WHO representative in Cambodia, said, "The current outbreaks in factories and markets serve as a painful reminder of the importance of investing in preventive measures before cases occur, to help avoid the virus spreading."

Li urged factory owners to conduct more temperature checks and reorganize workshops to allow for social separation.

The capital, Phnom Penh, has been under siege for the past 12 days, and authorities last week ordered all wet markets in the city to close for a period of 14 days.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Hun Sen demanded that the lockout be enforced more strictly.

In total, 9,975 cases have been registered in Cambodia, with 74 deaths, including ten on Saturday, a single-day high for the region.

In neighboring Laos, which seemed to be spared the worst of the pandemic last year, the number of cases has risen from 58 to 323 in less than a week.

Last week, the country's capital, Vientiane, was put on lockdown, with residents only allowed to leave their homes for groceries and medical appointments.

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