BANGKOK (AP) – Thailand reported more than 1,300 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, setting another daily record and adding pressure on the government to speed up a nearly nonexistent vaccination drive and do more to control a surge that comes amid mass travel as the country celebrates its traditional New Year festival.
The 1,335 new infections bring the number of new cases to nearly 7,000 since April 1, when a cluster linked to nightclubs and bars in central Bangkok was found. Most of the latest topics reported Wednesday were yet again in Bangkok. Seeing hefty increases were the northern province of Chiang Mai and the southern seaside province of Prachuap Khiri Khan.
Many of the new infections are a more contagious variant of the virus first found in the U.K… Coupled with widespread travel for the Songkran festival, or Thai New Year, is fueling the surge, said Dr. Opas Karnkavinpong, the Disease Control Department director-general. The festival officially began Tuesday and lasted for three days, but many people traveled for a week.
Significant daily increases in new infections had been rare for Thailand, which has weathered the pandemic far better than many nations through measures including strict border controls that have decimated the country’s lucrative tourism industry. Thailand has also experimented with everything from curfews and alcohol bans to closures of schools, shopping malls, and restaurants.