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By Linda Khoo Hui Li & Tuwaedaniya Meringing
BANGKOK, June 18 -- Thailand is ramping up vaccination drive amid plans to reopen the kingdom to fully vaccinated visitors by mid-October.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs' deputy spokesman Natapanu Nopakun said Thailand plans to procure 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by 2022, an increase of 50 million doses from previous target for its nearly 70 million population to achieve herd immunity.
To date, he said a total of 7.2 million people have received at least one dose of vaccine.
“A total of 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine procured as planned in June, and since starting its vaccination drive on Feb 28 the inoculation number is expected to reach 10 million by end of June.
“In July, the Public Health Ministry plans to acquire 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine,” he said at COVID-19 daily briefing here today.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan o-cha announced Thailand will reopen to fully vaccinated visitors by mid-October to revive its economy impacted severely by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Prayuth said fully inoculated foreign visitors and Thais returning home will be able to enter the kingdom without quarantine or other inconvenient restrictions.
Meanwhile, Thailand eased some COVID-19 restriction in ‘maximum and strict controlled area’ or dark red zone namely Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan.
Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesman Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin said activities involving no more than 50 people could be held.
Effective June 21, he said restaurants could operate at 50 per cent capacity until 11 pm but banned from serving alcohol.
He added that department stores and shopping centres can operate until 9 pm.
“Schools, universities, learning centres remain close,” he said adding that wearing mask in dark red zone is compulsory.
For ‘maximum control area’ or red zone – 11 provinces including Chon Buri, Songkhla, Yala, and Narathiwat, restaurants have no limits on the number of customers and can stay open until 11 pm. However, they too are banned from serving alcohol.
Over the last 24 hours, Thailand recorded 3,058 new COVID-19 cases and 22 fatalities, bringing the total infections in the kingdom to 210,782 and 1,577 deaths to date.
Of the new cases, Dr Taweesin said 3,039 were local transmission including 459 prisoners and 536 through active case detection, and 19 imported cases.
He said the new fatalities involved 11 men and 11 women aged between 32 and 95 years old including 16 in Bangkok, one each at Nakhon Pathom, Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao, Songkhla, Phrae and Phetchabun.
Meanwhile, Markaz Dakwah Yala which houses a madrasah (religious school) and mosque in Yala, southern Thailand has been ordered to close starting June 14 as new cluster has ben detected at the centre.
Provincial Public Health Official Dr. Songkran Maichum said 35 people have been tested positive in Yala, including students and those attended prayers at the mosque.
He added 25 COVID-19 cases in five provinces in southern Thailand linked to the centre have been reported.
“We identified about 500 tahfiz students who have been in close contact with people confirmed with COVID-19,” he said.
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