Thailand’s biggest island on lockdown to contain virus

Tourists swim and relax on a beach in Phuket on Thursday. (AP pic)

BANGKOK: Phuket in Thailand is on lockdown starting Monday, with all transportation to the island banned except by air, in the latest effort to contain the spread of novel coronavirus in the popular tourist destination.

The order will last for at least for one month, according to Phuket Governor Pakkapong Taweepat. Vehicles and vessels providing essential goods and services are exempted.

Cases of Covid-19 in Thailand have surged in recent days, raising concerns that hospitals in some areas may not be able to handle a large number of patients. Phuket has one of the country’s biggest clusters of coronavirus cases, according to the Health Ministry.

The Thai Navy has prepared 1,200 extra beds at its facilities to prepare for patients with Covid-19, according to Commander-in-Chief Luechai Ruddit.

The Health Ministry said Sunday that confirmed coronavirus cases had risen by 143 to 1,388, and another person had died, taking fatalities to seven.

The government imposed a state of emergency on Thursday under which the country is partially locked down.

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