Fewer curbs soon, says PM
'More efficient' lockdown will help
Some Covid-19 curbs may be eased next month if the lockdown measures prove to be effective in slowing infections, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said.
The prime minister has also urged all Thais to strictly follow universal prevention guidelines against Covid-19, as a more efficient lockdown will help reduce new cases and Covid deaths faster.
On his Facebook Page, Gen Prayut said that despite new daily cases still soaring to more than 20,000, there are positive signs of the infection rates slowing since the lockdown measures were put in place in mid-July.
On several days, the number of patients who have recovered were also more than new infections, the prime minister said.
However, what is most worrying is the number of fatalities, even though they are still below the global death rate. Gen Prayut wrote: "We don't want a single person to die.
"The Public Health Ministry has concluded that if the government increases the efficiency of the lockdown measures, we will be able to reduce the number of infections and deaths further,'' he wrote.
In light of this, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) decided to extend the lockdown until the end of this month, Gen Prayut said.
"If the lockdown is enforced more efficiently, we may be able to survive the peak of the infection curve expected by the end of this month, and infections are expected to slow down next month,'' Gen Prayut wrote.
"Then we can ease curbs on some activities and businesses."
However, the prime minister stressed the need for all involved to work together to help reduce the number of new cases and deaths.
Since the current wave is the result of the fast-spreading Delta variant, it has been estimated there are still numerous people who are asymptomatic and have yet to be tested, Gen Prayut said, adding that even those who were already vaccinated can still contract the virus.
As a result, the CCSA's medical team has agreed that people should step up precautions by following "universal prevention'' guidelines against Covid-19 for the entire population, regardless of whether they are among at-risk groups, or whether they are already vaccinated, he posted.
For example, people should only go outside of their home when necessary; maintain a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others and wear double masks when going outside, Gen Prayut said.
The guidelines also include regular hand-washing with soap or hand sanitisers; avoiding using hands to touch masks, the eyes, mouth and nose unless necessary; and disinfecting surfaces, personal belongings, and their surroundings.
Those with underlying health conditions and people aged 60 and over should avoid leaving their homes unless necessary.
Anyone who is at risk or comes into contact with infected people should use antigen test kits, Gen Prayut wrote.
"We must always keep in mind that everyone we meet may be an infected person,'' he said.
"Medical studies have also confirmed that Covid-19 can spread through the air between people in close contact with each other.
"I encourage you all to adopt and follow universal prevention guidelines strictly, particularly when the risk is still high."
Meanwhile, Government House said Australia will donate A$2.8 million (67.6 million baht) to support Thailand's health policies on Covid.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday talked to his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on the phone.
Thailand logged a record 312 new Covid-19 fatalities -- substantially more than the previous high of 239 -- and 20,515 new cases over the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry reported on Wednesday.