Thailand takes actions in response to COVID-19 spread hinh anh 1Medical workers at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Bangkok, Thailand, on April 7 (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)
Bangkok (VNA) – The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has decided to cancel all activities celebrating the traditional New Year festival, Songkran, in all districts of the province in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The move came after a new cluster of infections linked to entertainment venues in Thong Lo swiftly spread to other areas.

Bangkok Deputy Governor Kriangyos Sudlabha said as for public and private organisations which cannot cancel their planned Songkran festivities, the BMA urges them to employ strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On April 7, the BMA also announced the closure of all entertainment venues on Khaosan Road, which is famous among foreigners in Bangkok, from April 7 to 12 and that it will provide free coronavirus tests for all merchants in the area.

Earlier, Bangkok also shut entertainment venues in Klong Toey, Watthana and Bang Khae districts until April 19.

The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration recently banned all water splashing activities during the festival, except for traditional practices like bathing Buddha images and pouring water into elders’ palms.

Deputy Governor Kriangyos Sudlabha said the MBA recommended people to perform the traditional practices at home and avoid going out to crowded places.

Thai authorities used to expect that Songkran festivities will help stimulate tourism and the economy. However, facing complex developments of the outbreak, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the Government may impose pandemic control measures during the Songkran festival next week, from April 13 to 15.

On April 8, Spokesman of the Thai Government Anucha Burapachaisri confirmed that the PM has ordered an immediate 14-day shutdown of entertainment venues or restaurants where a COVID-19 infection is found.

Restaurants are still allowed to open, but they have to take strict COVID-19 preventive measures, the spokesman said, adding that the PM also granted the communicable disease committee in each province the power to consider shutting down any business for at least two weeks if it is related to an outbreak in their province. In case of an emergency situation, the provincial governor could issue a temporary shutdown order on public places, provided that such an order is approved by the provincial communicable disease committee.

Meanwhile, Thailand has recorded at least 24 first domestic cases infected with B.1.1.7, the coronavirus variant first detected in the UK and found to be 1.7 times more transmissible than the original variant.

As of April 7, Thailand had recorded 29,905 cases of COVID-19, including 95 deaths. It has carried out the vaccination programme since February 28, with over 320,000 doses injected so far./.