BANGKOK: About 200 new Covid-19 infections were reported last Sunday — the highest single day jump in Thailand.
According to the Bangkok Post, the number of infections was expected to surpass the 1,000 mark in the next seven days, with more stringent measures expected to be imposed by the government.
Following the announcement of a soft lockdown in Bangkok, scores flocked to bus stations to leave the city.
Public Health Ministry spokesman Thaveesilp Wisanuyothin said the number of Covid-19 cases rose to 599 with most new cases concentrated in Bangkok.
Shortly after Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang ordered the closure of shopping malls and markets, except those selling food and essential consumer goods for three weeks, five provinces of Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani followed, triggering speculation that a full lockdown was coming.
About 80,000 people boarded buses heading out of Bangkok last Sunday.
Most migrant workers rushed to bordering provinces aiming to go home to neighbouring countries before the Thai borders close.
Responding to speculation of a full lockdown, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreangam said the government had considered several measures to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus.
He said whether these measures would be implemented depended on an evolving situation but noted that people “would be given a heads-up”.
He added that the lockdown was highly sensitive and would have adverse impacts.
“The government has thought about it and we’re waiting for a signal from medical authorities. The prime minister is listening to opinions of medical and public health experts.”
Last week, the government postponed the Songkran holiday, from April 13 to 15, to restrict movements as authorities emphasised the need for people to distance themselves from each other to slow the spread of the virus.
Following the closure orders by Bangkok and five other provinces, the national committee on communicable diseases had alerted provincial authorities to new arrivals and asked transport agencies to implement social distancing measures.