Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health said on Thursday that it had discovered 60 more coronavirus cases; the largest increase over a 24-hour period since the outbreak began in January.
The new cases bring the country’s total to 272 confirmed cases.
The large increase in confirmed cases over the past week has prompted 48 public organizations to call on the government to shut down the country for three weeks to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Among those calling for a shutdown are the People Health Systems Movement, the Independent Committee for Consumer Protection, Faculty of Pharmacy at Siam University, Biodiversity Sustainable Agriculture Food Sovereignty Action Thailand (BioThai), and Thai Media Fund.
A combined statement from the 48 organizations called for nation-wide travel restrictions, closure of the country’s borders and an extension to the ongoing partial shutdown of entertainment and education venues.
They said a state of emergency should be declared to prevent a gathering of more than 5 people for three weeks. At the same time, they are also asking the government to enter phase 3 of the prevention measures to fully allow authorities to screen, quarantine and cure patients.
Breakdown of new cases
Among the new cases, 43 stemmed from a previously-known boxing match, entertainment venues in Bangkok and close proximity with known patients.
The 17 remaining cases came from returnees from abroad, a news reporter and a gym trainer.
“There has been a dramatic rise in cases but more than half of Thailand’s numbers can be traced to two events, a boxing match and a night of partying among friends,” said Dr Suwanchai Watanayingcharoenchai. “These people not only caught the disease but went back to their homes and their provinces and ignored our guidelines. They are putting the public at risk.
Among those newly infected patients are returnees from the same religious festival at a mosque in Malaysia that has caused over 300 infections within Malaysian borders.
Concerns were raised that those who travelled to the festival will return to Thailand’s southernmost Muslim-majority provinces where the healthcare infrastructure is not developed.
Suwanchai said that the ministry was aware of the concerns and would monitor the situation closely.
Suwanchai also added that public members who know of quarantine-breakers should report these cases to the Ministry Of Public Health.
Partial shutdown across the country
On Wednesday, the partial shutdown of Bangkok was enforced. Clubs, bars, sporting events, were shuttered until the end of March to help fight against the outbreak. Schools and Universities were closed indefinitely with classes moving online.
The government said that it would leave the decision outside Bangkok for provincial governments to decide but already local governments seemed to be following suit. Phuket announced late Tuesday that it would close its entertainment venues. Other tourist areas are expected to join in the shutdown.
Worldwide toll increases
As of Thursday afternoon, the worldwide toll has surpassed 220,000 confirmed cases with 8,981 deaths.
The European Union continues to be the worst-hit region outside of China with Italy reporting over 35,000 cases and Spain and Germany both reporting over 12,000 cases.
Iran’s toll has climbed to 17,361 cases which analysts say may be underreported.
The United States also reported an increase in cases and is predicted to break the 10,000 patient mark by the weekend.