Record deaths put govt on alert
Tougher measures likely as infections and fatalities soar
Tougher lockdown measures, including closing down nearly all businesses in Greater Bangkok, will be presented to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), sources said.
Meanwhile, the country also 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.
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).
Greater Bangkok, which comprises the capital and its five neighbouring provinces, reported 108 fatalities, with 71 deaths in the capital, 18 in Nonthaburi, seven in Samut Sakhon, six in Pathum Thani, five in Nakhon Pathom and one in Samut Prakan.
The additional lockdown measures were proposed at a meeting of the CCSA's operation centre on Saturday, attended by state agencies and medical and health experts, sources said.
"The meeting agreed that tougher measures should be imposed to restrict people's movement and close all businesses in Greater Bangkok, except goods transport, businesses selling food and medicines, communication devices and public utility work,'' the sources said.
Another proposal involves businesses adopting a "sealed route'' system for workers and employees, the sources said. However, no details have been given yet.
The meeting agreed the government should come up with clear measures to support active case finding, treat patients and create a system to support people's livelihoods.
No details were available about what extra government assistance measures will be provided or what form they will take.
The meeting also discussed deployment of a Covid-19 comprehensive response team (CCRT), along with arrangements for home isolation and community isolation.
It also discussed how to manage hospitals in a way that will reduce work duplication and look after as many infected patients as possible.
Efforts will also be made to speed up vaccinations for the elderly and people with chronic diseases, the sources said.
The proposals will be presented by the CCSA, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as CCSA director, the sources said.
Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said the latest wave was severe.
"Without any additional containment measures, the number of daily infections and fatalities will continue to rise for at least 3-4 months,'' he said.
"The existing measures must be intensified, particularly to restrict travel and movement to curb transmissions," Dr Opas said.
Prof Surapon Nitikraipot, chairman of Thammasat University Hospital's executive board, posted on Facebook that the public health system would collapse if those in the government fail to quickly procure enough vaccines.
"Why did the Thai government not do the same as India which banned exports of vaccines temporarily two months ago?'' he asked.
"This was despite the National Vaccine Committee putting forward such a proposal last week," Dr Surapon wrote.
"We only needed 6 million of the 15 million doses made by the company to prevent more fatalities here first.''