BANGKOK: Thailand could see coronavirus cases double to 45,000 per day by early next month, even with current lockdown measures in place, its COVID-19 task force said on Friday (Aug 13), as authorities urged people to stay home to reduce infection risks.
Thailand has been struggling with its worst outbreak so far, with a daily average of 20,000 new infections and 180 deaths in the past week, compared to 70 new cases and single-digit daily fatalities less than five months ago.
Current travel restrictions and containment measures in place over the past month have yet to make an impact, the task force said.
A record 23,418 new cases were announced on Friday, taking overall cases to 863,189, with 7,126 deaths.
"The lockdown has been 20 per cent effective but the infections continue to rise, projected to reach about 45,000 cases per day by the start of or mid-September," spokesman Taweesin Wisanuyothin told a news conference.
Citing health ministry projections, he said that if the lockdown could be 5 per cent more effective and target groups vaccinated faster, there might still be 20,000 cases per day in two months.
Thailand successfully contained the coronavirus for most of last year but the latest wave, fuelled by highly contagious Alpha and Delta variants, has hit the country badly, at a time when the vaccination rate remains low.
The contagion has piled pressure on health services in the capital Bangkok, which saw a record 5,140 new infections on Friday. About 129,000 patients have been sent back to their provinces since July to try to ease the burden on Bangkok beds, Taweesin said.
The prime minister will meet the task force on Monday and could adjust measures to fight the virus, he added.