May 13, 2020 / 5:30 AM / 12 days ago

Thailand reports no new coronavirus cases for first time since March 9

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand, the first country outside China to discover a case of the new coronavirus, reported no new daily cases for the first time in two months on Wednesday as the government considered easing more restrictions on businesses.

FILE PHOTO: People in protective masks, who are affected by the government's measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), grab free food in a food pantry installed by people who want to donate at a community in Bangkok, Thailand, May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

“We all can be relieved but not complacent,” said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

“We need to continue with the main measures ... wash hands, practice social distancing and wear masks,” he said.

Thailand detected its first coronavirus case, a tourist from China on Jan. 13. Since then it has recorded a total of 3,017 infections and 56 deaths.

Taweesin said areas that were still most at risk included Bangkok and surrounding provinces, as well as southern Thailand, where there has been a large number of cases in the past two weeks.

Fuelling the rise in southern cases has been a cluster at an immigration detention centre in Songkhla province and in provinces bordering Malaysia. Thailand’s neighbour to the south has had 6,742 coronavirus cases and 109 deaths.

The last day Thailand recorded no new cases was March 9, but within two weeks the daily numbers jumped to double digits and then to more than 100 a day.

That sharp escalation prompted the government to order the closure of shopping malls, restaurants, gyms and other businesses and to impose a 10 p.m. curfew.

Last week, as the number of new cases fell, some of those restrictions were lifted, with businesses such as hair salons and pet groomers allowed to open.

The government is considering reopening shopping malls next week. It is expected to meet on Friday to decide on the easing of measures.

Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Tom Hogue, Robert Birsel

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