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UPDATE 1-Thailand reports fourth record daily rise in coronavirus cases this week

Thu 15th April, 2021 8:03am
(Adds comments from health officials)
    BANGKOK, April 15 (Reuters) - Thailand reported 1,543 new
coronavirus cases on Thursday, the sharpest increase since the
start of the pandemic and the fourth record rise this week, amid
a third wave of infections in the Southeast Asian country.
    While Thailand has up to now managed to keep case numbers
relatively contained compared to many other countries, the new
outbreak comes as many have travelled during the country's
Songkran new year holidays and with vaccination rates still low.
    When asked whether lockdowns would be imposed, health
official Chawetsan Namwat said measures were being formulated
based on case numbers in each area and would be proposed to the
coronavirus taskforce for approval on Friday. 
    "We have to divide up the areas based on seriousness, which
is different and so measures have to be suitable for each area,"
Chawetsan told a briefing. 
    Authorities have already urged people to limit travel and
begin working from home. 
    Shopping malls will also close early at 9 p.m and the
banking association said branches outside malls will close at
3:30 p.m. there would be limit on customer numbers. 
    Thailand's last major lockdown was in late March last year,
with a curfew imposed in April, before seeing months of
relatively relaxed curbs as cases stayed mainly contained.
    Of the new infections reported on Thursday, 409 were in
capital Bangkok, the epicentre of the outbreak.
    The new cases took the total number of infections to 37,453,
with deaths remaining at 97.
    The latest outbreak has already caused some strains on the
healthcare system in Bangkok. All positive cases have to be
admitted into care under Thai rules, with 8,973 patients
currently being treated.
    Chawetsan denied the rate of vaccination was slow but said
the country had received only a limited supply. Government data
showed about 2,000 additional doses administered by Thursday
from a day earlier out a total of 581,308. 
    Thailand has vaccinated less than 0.4% of its population,
trailing neighbours like Malaysia with 1.5% and 14.6% in
Singapore, according to a Reuters estimate.
    The country has received two million doses of China's
Sinovac shots  SVA.O  and 117,300 AstraZeneca  AZN.L  shots. 
    The government's main vaccination strategy relies on
locally-produced AstraZeneca shots, which are expected to start
being delivered in June, with the aim of inoculating half of the
adult population by the end of the year. 

 (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Orathai Siring
Editing by Ed Davies)
 ((, Twitter: @ChayutSet;
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