Bangkok to shut malls as COVID-19 cases in Thailand jump

Bangkok to shut malls as COVID-19 cases in Thailand jump

A Royal Thai Army soldier sanitizes in the city due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
A Royal Thai Army soldier sanitizes in the city due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Bangkok, Thailand March 21, 2020. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

BANGKOK: Thailand reported its largest daily increase in coronavirus infections on Saturday (Mar 21), with 89 new cases taking the national tally to 411.

Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a Public Health Ministry spokesman, said the new cases were linked to earlier infections from a boxing match, an entertainment complex and a religious gathering in neighbouring Malaysia.

Of those infected, 366 are currently being treated, while 44 have recovered.

Thailand has reported one death in the outbreak.

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Malls in Bangkok, except for supermarkets, will be closed for 22 days beginning Mar 22 to Apr 12 in a bid to curb the outbreak of the coronavirus, Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang said in a statement on Saturday.

"For malls, only the areas that sell food and goods that are used in daily life, will be open,” Aswin said in a Facebook live broadcast.

Boxing stadiums, beauty salons and arcades were also included in the closure announcement. Those found violating the order face up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 100,000 baht.

Bangkok will also extend the closure of schools and bars for another 22 days.

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Long queues and crowds of shoppers were seen at a grocery store in downtown Bangkok with their carts full of dried goods, food and medicine.

The governor asked the public not to panic and hoard goods.

“Please don’t be alarmed, I guarantee that you will be able to buy food and goods sufficiently,” he said.

Restaurants will be open for takeout orders and pharmacies will also remain open.

Budget airlines also began suspending service.

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Thai AirAsia is temporarily suspending its international flights from Mar 22 to Apr 25.

Thai Lion Air on Friday said it would suspend international and domestic flights from Mar 25 to Apr 30.

From Sunday, all travellers - both Thai and foreign - will need to acquire a health certificate before entering Thailand as the country stepped up its efforts to control the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Confusion over Thailand's new coronavirus curbs left travellers scrambling on Friday as Thai citizens queued at embassies abroad to get special travel papers and foreigners faced the challenge of producing a negative test for the disease.

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Source: Agencies/CNA/nc