An all-time record 27,560 confirmed new Covid-19 cases were registered during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry announced on Thursday morning, along with 85 more coronavirus-related fatalities.
The day before, the new caseload was at 25,389 with 87 deaths.
Just 61 of the 27,560 cases announced Thursday were detected in new arrivals from other countries. A further 53 were found among prison inmates.
Sumanee Wacharasin, spokeswoman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said on Thursday afternoon that the figures did not include 16,079 positive results from antigen tests over the past 24 hours. This would raise the total to 43,639 (down from 50,786 on the previous day).
“New daily cases, patients with lung inflammation and those depending on ventilators are rising in number. So, people should comply strictly with disease control measures and importantly must receive vaccines,” she said.
Of the new infections in the general population, 27,283 were confirmed at hospitals and 162 via mass testing.
Bangkok had the most new cases at 3,344, followed by 1,414 in Chon Buri, 1,412 in Nakhon Si Thammarat, 978 in Samut Sakhon, 945 in Samut Prakan, 789 in Songkhla, 711 in Khon Kaen, 679 in Ratchaburi, 639 in Chachoengsao and 612 in Nonthaburi.
The 61 imported cases came from 23 countries and included nine from Bahrain, six from Germany, five from Turkey and four each from Singapore and the United Kingdom.
“The infection rate among arrivals is declining, down to 0.59% this month from 2.2% in February and 3.7% in January,” Dr Sumanee said.
Starting Friday, foreign travellers will no longer be required to carry a pre-travel Covid-free certificate as the country seeks to draw more holidaymakers to help it sustain a nascent economic recovery. Overseas visitors will still be required to undergo an RT-PCR test on arrival and a self-administered antigen test on day five.
The flare-up in cases comes ahead of the Songkran festival, the Thai new year celebrations, from April 13 with authorities cautioning against large gatherings and traditional splashing of waters on revellers to prevent more people getting infected.
Not yet endemic
The 85 new fatalities were between the ages of 22 and 92 years old and included an American.
“New fatalities exceeded 80 for two days. To declare Covid-19 an endemic disease, new deaths must be less than 80 per day,” Dr Sumanee said.
The country has prepared a road-map to classify the pandemic as endemic in the coming months, but the progress toward it would be contingent on first controlling the current outbreak, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has said.
Bangkok had 12 new deaths while there were also 12 in adjacent provinces - in Samut Prakan (4), Samut Sakhon (3), Pathum Thani (3) and Nakhon Pathom (2).
Other central plain provinces further from the capital recorded 31 deaths, including eight in Ratchaburi, three each in Samut Songkhram, Ayutthaya and Sa Kaeo and two each in Kanchanaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Saraburi.
The Northeast had 19 fatalities - four each in Ubon Ratchathani and Roi Et, three each in Udon Thani and Si Sa Ket, two in Kalasin and one each in Nong Khai, Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom.
The South reported nine deaths including eight in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
The North saw two more coronavirus-related fatalities in Chiang Mai and Sukhothai.
On Wednesday 246,770 people received Covid-19 treatment (up from 244,372 on the previous day) - 62,747 of them at hospitals (up from 59,826), including 1,808 seriously ill patients with lung inflammation (up from 1,727) and 713 dependent on ventilators (up from 679).
The 24-hour period also saw 25,077 Covid-19 patients discharged from hospitals after recovering from the coronavirus..
Since the pandemic started in early 2020, there have been 3,628,347 Covid-19 cases, including 1,404,912 this year, with 3,356,447 complete recoveries to date.
The accumulated death toll stood at 25,130 since the beginning of the pandemic, including 3,432 so far this year.
The highest number of Covid-related fatalities in a 24-hour period was 312 recorded on Aug 13, 2021. The previous highest number of cases was 27,071 on March 18.
Global Covid-19 cases rose by 1.57 million in 24 hours to 487.09 million. The worldwide death toll went up by 4,239 to 6.16 million.
Over the past seven days, South Korea had the most cases of 2.35 million, followed by Germany with 1.53 million cases, France with 957,856 cases and Vietnam with 693,535 cases.