Thailand reports no new Covid-19 cases for first time since March 9

Policemen and volunteers measure body temperatures of visitors entering a market in Bangkok on May 12. (AP pic)

BANGKOK: Thailand, the first country outside China to discover a case of the new coronavirus, reported no new daily cases for the first time in two months on Wednesday as the government considered easing more restrictions on businesses.

“We all can be relieved but not complacent,” said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

“We need to continue with the main measures … wash hands, practice social distancing and wear masks,” he said.

Thailand detected its first coronavirus case, a tourist from China on Jan 13. Since then it has recorded a total of 3,017 infections and 56 deaths.

Taweesin said areas that were still most at risk included Bangkok and surrounding provinces, as well as southern Thailand, where there has been a large number of cases in the past two weeks.

Fuelling the rise in southern cases has been a cluster at an immigration detention centre in Songkhla province and in provinces bordering Malaysia. Thailand’s neighbour to the south has had 6,742 coronavirus cases and 109 deaths.

The last day Thailand recorded no new cases was March 9, but within two weeks the daily numbers jumped to double digits and then to more than 100 a day.

That sharp escalation prompted the government to order the closure of shopping malls, restaurants, gyms and other businesses and to impose a 10pm curfew.

Last week, as the number of new cases fell, some of those restrictions were lifted, with businesses such as hair salons and pet groomers allowed to open.

The government is considering reopening shopping malls next week. It is expected to meet on Friday to decide on the easing of measures.