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Thailand decides to mix vaccine doses as capital city Bangkok placed under strict lockdown measures

Thailand decides to mix vaccine doses as capital city Bangkok placed under strict lockdown measures

The Thai capital, Bangkok, has been placed under its harshest coronavirus restrictions in over a year. Amid infections in fully vaccinated medical workers, Thailand will mix AstraZeneca and Sinovac doses.

On Monday the capital and the greater region of Bangkok was propelled into its toughest lockdown measures in over a year, with the total closure of non-essential services alongside curfews in place for travel and businesses.

The lockdown measures came into force after having been announced on Friday, with Bangkok’s population being told to work remotely and stay at home. Restaurants have been forced to close their doors for dine-in customers, with only essential medicinal and grocery shops allowed to open, as all other retail and beauty services have been ordered to shut temporarily.

As part of the coronavirus restrictions, citizens of Bangkok and its five surrounding suburbs have been placed under a strict curfew from 9pm to 4am and are forbidden to leave their houses unless in the case of emergency, or having been granted permission by authorities. To ensure compliance with these rules, 145 checkpoints have been set up to monitor travel flowing in and out of the capital, as well as public transport curfews from late evening until the early hours (9pm to 3 am).

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Passengers wear protective gear to prevent the spread of Coronavirus at Suvarnabhumi International airport on March 25, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. © Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Thai PM announces plan to boost Covid-crippled economy by reopening the country to visitors in 120 days

The harsh measures follow a spike of coronavirus cases in Thailand, with the south-east Asian country recording almost 10,000 cases a day – its highest number since the outbreak of the pandemic. Covid fatalities have also risen to an unprecedented high, with the country breaking its record for the most deaths on July 10 after 91 people lost their lives to the virus.

Thailand’s vaccination rate is relatively slow, with the country mostly relying on donations from other countries. In February, Thailand was the only south-east Asian country not to join the COVAX scheme, which aims to resolve global vaccine inequity, citing uncertainty over delivery times and higher costs as its reasons for holding off participating. Instead, Thailand decided in late May to engage in Covid vaccine exchanges with the scheme. At present, just 4.7%. of Thailand’s population are fully vaccinated.

In order to boost vaccine protection, Thailand has decided to combine a dose each of AstraZeneca and Sinovac, after over 600 medical staff caught coronavirus despite being fully vaccinated by China’s jab.

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A health worker administers a swab test for the Covid-19 coronavirus at Wat Phra Sri Mahatat Buddhist temple in Bangkok on July 8, 2021. © Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP
Hundreds spend a night outside Bangkok temple waiting for Covid tests as Thailand suffers record number of daily deaths

Alongside a slow vaccination rollout, Bangkok has struggled to get adequate testing for its population, with droves of people queuing outside a temple overnight to confirm their viral status just days before the lockdown on July 8. In order to take the pressure off testing facilities in hospitals, the Public Health Ministry has enabled rapid antigen tests available for purchase in pharmacies for the public.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Thailand has recorded over 345,000 cases and 2,791 deaths.

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