Thailand reports another COVID-19 record after prison clusters
Thailand recorded 9,635 fresh coronavirus cases on Monday, almost three-quarters of which were prisoners infected in jail clusters, as the Southeast Asian nation battles a third wave of infections.
The estimated number of infections now stands at 111,082. Thailand also reported 25 new deaths on Monday, taking the total number of coronavirus fatalities in the country to 614.
According to tests on 24,357 prisoners in eight prisons, the COVID-19 taskforce reported that 10,748 inmates were contaminated with the coronavirus this month.
Testing has been conducted in seven other jails, and more promising cases are planned, according to Aryut Sinthoppan, director-general of the Department of Corrections.
“Since prisons are overcrowded, hygiene and disease prevention measures are restricted,” Aryut told reporters, adding that authorities want to test every inmate.
In Thailand’s 143 prisons, there are 310,000 inmates.
The increase in prisons comes after promising testing for some hospitalised anti-government opposition activists who were detained in pre-trial custody suspected of insulting the monarchy, leading others to advocate for more accountability.
Following a year of progress in combating previous outbreaks, Thailand’s new surge of infections has seen its total coronavirus cases more than triple and fatalities spike sixfold since the beginning of April.
The nation is yet to begin its mass immunisation campaign, with 1.48 million people receiving a first injection of a COVID-19 vaccine so far, the majority of which are frontline staff or representatives of high-risk communities.
A larger campaign is set to begin in June, when locally produced AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccines become usable. Thailand aims to immunise 70% of the more than 66 million adult people.