The government will decide on Monday whether to extend lockdown measures further as daily infections continue to soar, with an estimated 60,000–70,000 new daily cases predicted for next month unless curbs stay in place.
The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, will also meet on the same day to discuss whether to ease some COVID-19 restrictions to allow some essential businesses to reopen on the premises of department stores.
The government previously extended lockdown and curfew measures in Bangkok and 28 other dark-red provinces for two more weeks from 3rd August to Wednesday. The government will evaluate the situation and decide whether to further extend restrictions.
CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin on Friday said the CCSA’s operations centre and the Department of Disease Control have predicted that COVID-19 infections and deaths would increase next month.
Without lockdown measures in place, the number of daily infections is expected to reach 60,000-70,000 with more than 800 daily fatalities, Dr Visanuyothin said.
But if the lockdown measures are at an efficiency rate of 20% as they are now, the number of daily infections will be about 45,000 with about 500 daily fatalities, he said.
If the lockdown achieves an efficiency rate of 25% for two months along with efforts to step up vaccinations for the elderly, people with seven types of underlying health conditions and pregnant women, the number of daily infections will be at about 20,000 with less than 200 deaths per day, Dr Visanuyothin said.
“If we work together more closely, we can flatten the curve of infections,” he said.
Dr Visanuyothin went on to say that between 1st April and 11th August, a total of 185 pregnant women became infected with COVID-19 and another 28 died as a result of the infection. Most of them did not receive vaccines, he added.
Between 1st May and 12 August, infections were detected among 353 public transport drivers and another 104 deaths were reported, Dr Visanuyothin said.
He urged those who have not yet received jabs to get their shots straight away because vaccines can prevent the worst effects of COVID-19, including death.
The spokesman said the CCSA has acknowledged a request by the Thai Shopping Centre Association, which is asking the government to ease COVID-19 curbs to allow four types of businesses to reopen on the premises of shopping malls and department stores.
The CCSA has been aware of the plight of people and businesses affected by the tough lockdown measures, he said.
The matter will be decided by the CCSA on Monday, Dr Visanuyothin said.
These businesses comprise banks and financial institutions, shops selling IT and communication devices, general stores and shops selling household electrical appliances.
The Public Health Ministry on Friday reported a record 23,418 COVID-19 cases, and 184 deaths, over the previous 24 hours.
There were nine new imported cases — three each from Myanmar and Malaysia, two from the United Arab Emirates and one from Iraq.
Over the previous 24 hours, 20,083 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals.
The CCSA said that Bangkok had the largest number of daily fatalities with 71, followed by Samut Sakhon with 16 and Samut Prakan with 12. The rest was reported in 27 other provinces.
The capital also led with new infections with 5,140 cases, followed by Samut Prakan (1,936), Samut Sakhon (1,847) and Chon Buri (1,408).
Dr Visanuyothin said that the new record of infections in Bangkok was the result of proactive mass testing and rapid testing in communities.
Those who are at risk should isolate themselves from their families and communities and get testing as quickly as possible, he said.
He added that three new clusters of COVID-19 infections were reported in Samut Sakhon — 16 cases detected at a can-manufacturing factory; 14 at a furniture-manufacturing factory; and nine at a textile factory.