Thai protesters demand PM resign amid surge in COVID cases

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BANGKOK, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Anti-government protesters in Thailand took to the streets in cars and motorcycles on Sunday, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha over his handling of the spread of COVID-19, as the country struggles with its biggest outbreak to date.

In Bangkok, drivers honked horns and motorcyclists raised three-finger salutes - a gesture of resistance inspired by "The Hunger Games" movie - as they headed along a 20 km (12 miles) route stretching from the Democracy Monument in the centre of the capital out to Don Muang International Airport.

"We can barely make a living now, all of my family members have been affected," said a 47-year-old protester speaking from his car who only gave his first name "Chai", for fear of government repercussions.

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"The government failed to provide vaccines on time and many of us haven't had any vaccine yet," he said. "If we don't come out to make our calls, the government will simply ignore us."

There were also similar protests in other provinces.

The Southeast Asian country aims to inoculate 50 million people by the end of 2021, but so far, only 5.8% of its more than 66 million population are fully vaccinated, while about 21% have received at least one dose.

On Sunday, Thailand reported 18,027 new infections and 133 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing total accumulated cases to 615,314 and 4,990 fatalities.

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Editing by Susan Fenton

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