Thailand confirms 54 new coronavirus cases; government defends lack of testing

Thailand’s government said on Thursday that it had discovered 54 more coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours bringing the total number of cases to 2423.

The government said that 2 more people have died from the disease bringing the death toll to 32 including a French national.

52 more people have recovered from the virus bringing the total number of people discharged from hospitals to 940.

“We have to be cautious about how we repatriate our citizens,” said government spokesman Dr Thaweesin Visanuyothin. “There are still cases of Thais returning to the country and carrying the disease.”

Curfew hours unchanged

Dr Thaweesin said that the government has not changed the curfew hours from 10 pm to 4 am but would be considering special circumstances including security guards and other necessary personnel.

Thailand’s journalism associations, including foreign correspondents, have raised concerns with the government over the curfew saying that it curtails their freedom to report on events.

Low testing numbers

Thailand’s government said on Wednesday that it has not conducted mass testing because it was not cost-efficient and defended its focus-testing programs which it said was sufficient in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

There have been questions over the government’s testing program and whether Thailand’s low infection number was a consequence of its lack of testing.

Government statistics show that Thailand tests only 1,079 cases per 1 million citizens. The country has only conducted 71,860 tests since the outbreak began despite having the capacity to conduct 20,000 tests per day.

The ratio of tests is less than Malaysia’s 1,715 per 1 million. Malaysia is the site of ASEAN’s largest outbreak with 3,963 confirmed cases.

The ratio that Thailand tests are also well below countries that have successfully ‘flattened the curve.’ Taiwan tests 1,564 cases per 1 million, South Korea tests 9,099 cases per 1 million while Italy tests 11,429 cases per 1 million.

The government defended its low testing numbers by saying that that mass testing was “very expensive.”

“Testing everyone is expensive, we can focus test at-risk groups and still find the cases,” said government spokesman Dr Thaweesin Visanuyothin.

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