Thai government officials on Friday announced a seven-hour nighttime curfew in the capital, Bangkok, and at least six surrounding provinces as COVID-19 explodes in the country.
The announcement came following a lengthy meeting of the Thai Covid-19 Situation Administration Center (CCSA). In a televised statement, CCSA spokesman Natapanu Nopakun said the curfew would be in effect from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. starting Monday, July 12.
The curfew includes the closure of public transport networks and all businesses except supermarkets, restaurants, banks, pharmacies and electronics stores which are considered essential.
People have been asked to work from home and leave their homes only for essential purposes, and public gatherings of more than five people are prohibited. Non-essential travel has also been banned.
Thailand reported 9,276 new daily cases and 72 deaths on Friday as it battles a third wave of severe infections.
The new restrictions come as Vietnam enacted a two-week movement ban in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday to tackle its own growing outbreak of COVID-19. Hanoi has also announced plans to vaccinate 50 percent of its adult population by the end of the year and has set a target of vaccinating 70 percent of its population by next March.
The country of 100 million people had recorded fewer than 3,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as of April. Vietnam had 24,810 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 104 deaths as of Friday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center.
France fights the delta variant
Meanwhile, France’s health minister said on Friday he expects the highly contagious delta variant of the virus that makes COVID-19 the dominant strain in the country by Saturday.
In an interview with French radio, Health Minister Olivier Veran said the delta variant, originally identified in India, already accounted for nearly 50% of new COVID-19 cases in France on Thursday. The variant was found to be up to 60 percent contagious than the original virus.
Veran also said he expects a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections to hit France by the end of the month. He said senior government ministers will meet on Monday to discuss the threat and consider, among other actions, the possibility of making vaccinations mandatory for health workers and caregivers.
White House sends vaccines to Moldova
Also on Friday, White House officials told VOA that the United States is sending 500,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-injection COVID-19 vaccine to Moldova. Officials said the shipment will be the first in the US commitment to send 60 million doses of the vaccine to Europe.