The country recorded two grim milestones on Saturday as daily Covid-19 fatalities reached triple digits and new infections hit five figures for the first time.
The Ministry of Public Health said 141 people died in the previous 24 hours and 10,082 new cases were found. Both were single-day records. Of the new cases, 9,955 were among the general population and 127 were prison inmates.
Since April 1, when the third Covid wave began, there have been 363,126 Covid-19 patients, 250,758 of whom have recovered. The cumulative total since the pandemic started early last year is 391,909 cases, 278,184 of whom recovered.
The death toll from the third wave has reached 3,005, bringing the total since last year to 3,240.
A total of 110,565 people remained in hospitals as of Friday – 63,542 in conventional hospitals and 47,023 in field hospitals. Of the 3,454 critically ill patients, 839 were on ventilators.
The 141 people who died were aged between 24 and 96, or 64 on average. Seventy-three were men.
Eighty-two of them had hypertension and 63 had diabetes. Forty-four either lived in or had visited outbreak areas. Thirty-four caught the virus from family members and 32 from colleagues and neighbours, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) reported in its afternoon briefing on Saturday.
Greater Bangkok reported 108 fatalities. Bangkok alone had 71 deaths, followed by Nonthaburi (18), Samut Sakhon (7), Pathum Thani (6), Nakhon Pathom (5) and Samut Prakan (1). The far South had nine deaths — three each in Narathiwat and Pattani, two in Yala and one in Songkhla.
The other fatalities were in Udon Thani (4), Kanchanaburi (3), Chachoengsao (2), Trat (2), Prachin Buri (2), Udon Thani (2), Sa Kaeo (1), Chiang Rai (1), Kamphaeng Phet (1), Chaiyaphum (1), Nakhon Nayok (1), Ang Thong (1), Nakhon Phanom (1), Nakhon Ratchasima (1) and Nong Bua Lam Phu (1).
The 10,082 new cases consisted of 10,040 local infections and 42 imported cases. Of the local infections, 7,443 were confirmed at hospitals, 2,470 were found during mass testing and the remaining 127 were in prisons.
Bangkok logged 2,302 new cases, followed by Samut Prakan (849), Samut Sakhon (680), Chon Buri (659), Nonthaburi (471), Nakhon Pathom (288), Songkhla (286), Pathum Thani (251), Chachoengsao (245) and Yala (196).
The 42 imported cases were from India (5), the United States (2), Myanmar (25) and Cambodia (10). By nationality, 40 were Thais and two were Myanmar nationals. The two from the US were a 36-year-old Thai man and a 40-year-old Thai male researcher who entered the country under the Phuket Sandbox tourism scheme.
All 35 from Myanmar and Cambodia — 33 Thai returnees and two Myanmar people — had entered the country illegally.
The continuing rise in infections has led authorities to ban public gatherings nationwide, according to an announcement published in the Royal Gazette on Friday night.
In the 10 hardest-hit provinces, gatherings of more than five people are prohibited. The ban in Bangkok could complicate the plans of anti-government demonstrators who were planning to rally in the capital on Sunday.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said shortly before the new ban was announced that authorities might have to consider shuttering more types of businesses after people violated earlier bans on inter-provincial travel, gatherings of more than five people and the overnight curfew.
“Curbs on people’s movements haven’t done enough,” he said in a statement on Facebook. “We will have to consider tightening measures, otherwise the situation may escalate to the point where it will have serious consequences for the public health system.”
Strict measures, including a curfew, have been in effect in Bangkok and five adjacent provinces, as well as four hard-hit southern border provinces, since Monday. They are due to expire on July 26 but could be toughened or extended if conditions warrant.
Globally, Covid-19 cases rose by 562,570 in the past 24 hours to 190.29 million. The worldwide death toll went up by 8,653 to 4.09 million. The United Sates had the most cases at 34.92 million, up 40,529. Thailand ranked 55th in the number of accumulated cases.