Alarm bells ring as South sees spike

A spike in Covid-19 infections in Songkhla and Pattani has sounded the alarm over limited treatment capacity and the possible return to a strict lockdown.

In Songkhla, the provincial health office logged 504 new infections in the previous 24 hours, pushing the total to 36,439 since the third outbreak began in early April.

Fatalities topped 160 yesterday with more than 6,400 patients still in hospital from the virus.

According to the office, the virus hotspots are scattered across Muang, Hat Yai, Chana, Singha Nakhon, Rattaphum, Sadao, Saba Yoi and Thepha districts.

Most infections were recorded in factories and businesses, although some cases were brought in from outside provinces.

Deputy Interior Minister Niphon Bunyamanee said the prime minister has ordered agencies to work together more closely in tackling the surge of infections in the far South.

He said more quarantine facilities should be set up with home isolation programmes being made available more widely. Also, field hospitals should be up and running to cope with the rise in patients.

In Pattani, 514 new infections and six fatalities were reported yesterday. Local public health authorities said 883 beds were available at local hospitals but they were running out.

Infections reportedly jumped after restrictions were eased and people ditched masks and social distancing. Many residents feared the surge in infections would force the province into another strict lockdown.

Several new clusters of infections broke out, traced to a barbecue restaurant and a wedding banquet.

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