| 12 April 2024, Friday |

At least 10 Thai ministers, lawmakers self-isolate after COVID-19 contact

At least 10 Thai ministers and dozens of lawmakers were self-isolating on Wednesday after coming into contact with positive COVID-19 cases, amid a sharp spike in infections in the capital Bangkok.

Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob told local television on Wednesday he had tested positive for the coronavirus, while his Bhumjaithai Party said other cabinet ministers, MPs and coalition politicians had been in contact with confirmed cases.

Thailand has seen infections rise in the past week, although numbers are still low in comparison to some of its regional neighbors, owing to more than a year of tough border controls, testing, quarantine and contact-tracing protocols.

Authorities reported 334 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with no new fatalities, bringing Thailand’s overall infections to 29,905 and 95 deaths.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha changed a weekly get-together of his 36-member government to a virtual meeting on Wednesday and called on ministers to avoid exposure to the virus.

He noted that the public should exercise caution ahead of Thai new year celebrations next week, where crowds traditionally gather across the country.

The boisterous holiday tradition of hoards of people cramming into streets to hurl water over each other has been prohibited this year to prevent a major contagion.

Earlier this week, Bangkok authorities shut 196 entertainment venues in 3 districts of Bangkok for 2 weeks after clusters emerged where over 250 people contracted the virus.

Thailand is aiming to start its mass immunization campaign from June and has been inoculating health workers or people deemed vulnerable, with more than 200,000 recipients thus far, according to the Health Ministry.

Authorities are also carrying out vaccinations among the public in Phuket, a holiday hotspot, as part of Thailand’s calibrated reopening to foreign tourists.

  • Reuters