(Bloomberg) -- Thailand recorded the highest single-day increase in coronavirus cases with new clusters emerging in Bangkok’s prisons, complicating the fight to quell the worst outbreak to hit the nation that’s triggered curbs on businesses and travel.
The Covid task force reported 4,887 new cases in the past 24 hours, with nearly 60% of them coming from two jails in the capital. Cumulative cases rose to 93,794, while 32 new fatalities took the total death toll to 518, official data showed Thursday.
The prison clusters pose fresh challenges to Thai authorities trying to curb the third wave of infections that started from Bangkok’s night entertainment venues and spread to the city’s crowded slums. The worsening outbreak has weighed on investor sentiment with the benchmark Thai stock index and the baht heading for a third straight day of losses.
“The economic outlook remains weak,” Tim Leelahaphan, an economist at Standard Chartered (OTC: SCBFF ) Bank Plc in Bangkok, said in a report. “A turnaround would require significant fiscal measures, accelerated vaccination rollout with clear progress towards the herd immunity target, and a successful tourism reopening. We do not expect successful outcomes on these fronts until at least late third quarter,” he said.
Thai prisons are overcrowded, running at 5% above capacity, and the government has been trying to reduce the number of prison population through early release and jobs program. Last year, the concerns over infection risks prompted inmates to riot and set fire to part of a prison complex.
The Human Rights Watch urged authorities to “reduce overcrowding by releasing people who do not pose a serious and concrete risk to others.” But Thailand’s Department of Corrections said that it has resources to contain the outbreak, and that it has planned to administer vaccines to the inmates.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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