Thailand orders bar closings in capital to stop virus spread

Officials in Thailand’s capital have ordered a two-week closure of all entertainment venues in three districts to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus from nightspots there

Health officials are also trying to cope with a coronavirus outbreak at a prison in the south.

Apisamai Srirangsan, a spokesperson for the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, said 194 new coronavirus cases nationwide had been confirmed, most from Bangkok entertainment venues and from Narathiwat prison. Thailand has had 29,321 confirmed cases, including 95 deaths.

The center had already ordered affected nightspots closed until they undergo deep cleaning. Entertainment venues in the districts of Klong Toey, Bang Khae and Wattana — the latter with upmarket bars and bistros in the Ekkamai and Thong Lor neighborhoods — must close from April 6 to 19.

Bangkok’s city government have announced the names of the venues involved and urged people who patronized them over the past month to be tested for COVID-19.

The outbreaks come just ahead of the major holiday of Songkran in mid-April, which usually sees an exodus of people from cities to visit relatives in other provinces and is generally celebrated over an entire week. The official holiday was postponed last year because it came right after Thailand’s first wave of the virus.

The possibility of a new upsurge in COVID-19 cases comes as the government is trying to finalize plans to gradually reopen the country to foreign tourists, who stopped coming after scheduled passenger flights into the country were banned in April last year.

Thailand had appeared to be recovering from a COVID-19 wave that originated late last year in a province near Bangkok where thousands of people, mostly migrant workers, were infected.

Also in Bangkok, several international schools decided to suspend in-person classes for several days after at least one school reported a coronavirus case.

In Narathiwat province, the Corrections Department announced a one-month ban on prison visits beginning Monday after 120 inmates and officials at the provincial prison were infected.

Last month, a detention center in Bangkok for undocumented immigrants reported 395 cases of the coronavirus.

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