Asia Pacific News

Thailand’s new cases exceed 2,000, set record

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s health authorities announced Friday they have confirmed 2,070 new COVID-19 cases, a new daily record that brings the country’s total to 50,183.

The rising numbers are severely straining the supply of hospital beds and ICU capacity.

The record number of new infections came a day after a new daily high of seven deaths was announced. Four more deaths were announced Friday, bringing Thailand’s total to 121.

At the beginning of March, Thailand had 26,031 cases with double-digit daily increases, but a new outbreak sent the numbers skyrocketing.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, said Bangkok, with the highest number of cases, has only 69 empty ICU beds left out of a total of more than 400. He said that is enough for the next six to eight days according to the projected demand of 10-13 additional ICU beds per day. Nationwide demand, forecast at 52 ICU beds per day, would use up the capacity in 19 days, he said.

Under Thai law, infected patients must be held in hospital facilities, but even with the addition of field hospitals there are not enough beds. There are 19,873 people in hospitals and field facilities nationwide, but in some areas that are short of beds, infected people are isolating at home.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— India is putting oxygen tankers on special express trains as major hospitals in New Delhi begged on social media for more supplies to save COVID-19 patients who are struggling to breathe. More than a dozen people died when an oxygen-fed fire ripped through a coronavirus ward in a populous western state. India’s underfunded health system is tattering as the world’s worst coronavirus surge wears out the nation, which set another global record in daily infections for a second straight day with 332,730. The situation was worsening by the day with hospitals taking to social media pleading with the government to replenish their oxygen supplies and threatening to stop fresh admissions of patients. The government has started running Oxygen Express trains with tankers.

— Japan announced a third state of emergency for Tokyo and three western urban prefectures amid skepticism it will be enough to curb a rapid coronavirus resurgence ahead of the Olympics in July. The emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and its two western neighbors Kyoto and Hyogo will last from April 25 through mid-May. It is largely intended as a short, intensive step to stop people from traveling and spreading the virus during Japan’s “Golden Week” holidays. But experts and local leaders have said tougher measures are needed in the face of the rapidly spreading virus, limited vaccinations and public fatigue.

— The Australian west coast city of Perth will lock down for three days after a returned traveler was apparently infected with the coronavirus while in hotel quarantine. Western Australia state Premier Mark McGowan said on Friday masks will also become compulsory in the city of 2 million people for three days from midnight. “I know this is hard to take and I wish we didn’t need to be doing this. But we can’t take any chances with the virus, we just can’t,” McGowan told reporters. The cause of concern was a 54-year-old man who arrived in Perth on April 3 on a flight from China and went into mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine. A couple from India on the same floor of the hotel were infected with a virus variant identified in that country as more contagious. The variant spread to a mother and daughter from Britain who shared a room across a corridor.

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