Government Considers Harsher Lockdown Measures

Prime Minister Defends Vaccine Rollout

The government is considering imposing harsher lockdown measures as the number of new daily infections continued to soar and people continued to defy existing restrictions.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday chaired a special meeting of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to assess the outbreak situation in the Greater Bangkok Area and four southern provinces after lockdown restrictions were imposed on Monday.

Greater Bangkok covers the capital and the provinces of Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon.

Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokeswoman at the CCSA, said after the meeting that Gen Chan-o-cha was briefed on the rise in the number of new daily infections and cases of people defying the lockdown restrictions.

Officials at the meeting agreed that the measures may have to be tightened, she said, noting that it could mean that businesses currently allowed to open until 8pm may be closed.

Details of the revised measures will be released shortly, Dr Srirangson said.

A total of 9,692 new daily COVID-19 cases, with 67 fatalities, was reported yesterday.

There were 9,077 cases in the general population and 615 among prison inmates.

Bangkok logged 2,195 new cases, followed by 653 in Samut Sakhon, 607 in Samut Prakan, 530 in Chon Buri, and 456 in Nonthaburi.

Dr Srirangson said current lockdown measures cover only 10 provinces designated as maximum and strict control zones, not the whole country.

However, officials at the meeting expressed concern that existing measures may not be adequate as people defy curfew restrictions and daily cases continue to soar, she said.

Therefore, Gen Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as director of the CCSA, asked an advisory team of doctors to review existing health measures and urgently present new ones to him, Dr Srirangson said.

“The Department of Disease Control (DDC) reported that people defied curfew restrictions and gathered in groups. Some played cards on the back of pickup trucks,” she said.

“We are concerned and the measures may have to be toughened even further.”

Current lockdown measures include a 9pm–4am curfew for at least two weeks in Greater Bangkok and the four southern border provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla. Interprovincial travel has also been restricted in these areas.

Other measures include the closure of department stores and shopping malls. Supermarkets are allowed to operate until 8pm.

Dr Srirangson said COVID-19 has now spread to all 77 provinces nationwide so officials at the meeting instructed the Public Health Ministry to step up disease containment measures.

On July 9, Chon Buri reported 317 cases and 359 the following day. It reported 530 new cases yesterday.

Dr Srirangson said officials at the meeting discussed two important issues – proactive case finding and the treatment of patients in times of limited medical resources and personnel.

Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the DDC, yesterday said the CCSA instructed a subcommittee to strengthen current measures.

The details will be discussed at a meeting of the subcommittee in the next few days before being presented to the CCSA, Dr Karnkawinpong said.