By Linda Khoo Hui Li
BANGKOK, March 26 -- As a state of emergency took effect in Thailand today, authorities set up 357 checkpoints nationwide to screen inter-provincial travellers in an effort to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
The checkpoints at provincial borders, including seven in Bangkok, are manned by the army, police and health officials who will be conducting temperature screenings until April 30.
A check at the Bang Na checkpoint in Bangkok saw officials conducting temperature checks on drivers and passengers besides reminding them to use face masks and hand sanitisers.
Yesterday, Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan o-cha declared a state of emergency from midnight until April 30.
Starting today, all foreigners will be banned from entering the kingdom through all entry points, with the exception of diplomats, foreigners with work permits, and those in the transportation sector.
Under the emergency decree, all shopping malls, entertainment outlets and sports venues that attract crowds are ordered to close, while supermarkets that sell food and daily necessities, markets selling fresh products, and pharmacies and convenience stores, will remain open. Restaurant and cafes only offer take away and delivery services.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the government has not ruled out plans to impose curfews or a travel ban.
He said an ‘all day curfew’ could be imposed if the situation worsened.
Thailand today reported 111 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the tally to 1,045, with four deaths.
An officer from the Disease Control Department, Dr Anupong Sujariyakul said 29 new cases have been linked to earlier infections – 19 of them had close contact with confirmed cases, six attended Muay Thai matches, three visited entertainment outlets, and one attended a mass religious gathering at a mosque in Malaysia.
He added that 19 other new cases included nine people who worked in crowded places and had close contact with foreigners, six who had travelled abroad, and three medical staff members after patients hid information when seeking treatment at hospitals.
The source of infections for a total of 69 new cases is being investigated, he said.
Speaking at a press conference today, he said so far, nine healthcare personnel had been infected with COVID-19 after patients concealed information on their contacts and movements.
Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections today confirmed that two prisoners had been infected with COVID-19.
In a statement, the department said the source of infections was being investigated and that necessary measures were being put in place to limit the spread of the virus.
There are 380,000 prisoners and 13,000 correctional officers in the country.
Malaysia National News Agency
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