Thailand weighing up more lockdown measures as COVID-19 cases surge

Rapid antigen testing for COVID-19 in Bangkok
People queue for free coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rapid antigen tests at a mass testing station, as the spread of COVID-19 continues, in Bangkok, Thailand, July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa

BANGKOK, July 16 (Reuters) - Thailand is considering bringing in tighter coronavirus curbs in a bid to contain soaring infections, as authorities reported on Friday a record number of cases despite imposing partial lockdowns in Bangkok and nine other provinces this week.

Since Monday, areas considered high risk in Thailand have been under the toughest restrictions in more than a year, with new curbs on movement and gatherings, the closure of malls and some businesses, and curfews between 9 pm to 4 am. read more

"After assessing the measures there are still concerns," said Apisamai Srirangsan, a spokeswoman for the government COVID-19 task force.

"We may close more places and intensify the measures," she said.

The government also plans to increase the number of COVID-19 tests which currently cover 70,000-80,000 people per day by introducing home-testing kits which will be available from drugstores next week, Apisamai said.

Thailand on Friday reported a daily record of 9,692 coronavirus infections and 67 new deaths, taking total cases to 381,907 and fatalities to 3,099, as authorities struggle to tackle the country's biggest wave of infections so far.

The Thai health ministry this week also gave the go-ahead for home isolation of coronavirus patients with mild symptoms. read more

The Thai Red Cross on Friday said it had bought 1 million doses of Moderna's (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccines from the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO).

The GPO is due to sign a deal next week to import five million doses of the Moderna vaccine that should arrive in Thailand sometime in the fourth quarter or the start of next year.

In a statement, the Red Cross said some vaccines will be administered free of charge for medical personal and vulnerable groups, while others will be sold to organizations around the country for general distribution.

Thailand's main vaccine rollout started last month and has relied mainly on the AstraZeneca (AZN.L) and Sinovac (SVA.O) shots, though the pace of the rollout has been slower than in some neighbouring countries.

More than 5% of its more than 66 million people have been fully vaccinated so far.

Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Panarat Thepgumpanat and Panu Wongcha-um Editing by Ed Davies

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