Prayuth Chan-ocha says the government wants to avoid a strict lockdown after country reports register daily cases.
The Thai prime minister urged people to stay at home to help contain a coronavirus outbreak that has started in a seafood market and to avoid a strict lockdown.
Prayuth Chan-ocha, speaking after health officials confirmed a daily record of 745 new cases, said the government was aware of the potential economic damage resulting from strict containment measures.
“We don’t want to lock up the whole country because we know what the problems are, so can you all lock yourself up?” he told reporters.
“It depends on everyone,” Prayuth said. “If we don’t want to get infected, stay home for 14 to 15 days. If you think so, things will be certain; easier for screening. “
The government has declared 28 provinces, including Bangkok, as high-risk areas and asked people to work from home and avoid congregating or traveling across provincial borders.
Thailand, which was the first country to record a case of COVID-19 outside of China, has recorded a total of 8,439 coronavirus cases and 65 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Most of the new cases are linked to a group of migrant workers that started in Samut Sakhon, a coastal province southwest of Bangkok, and has led to cases in more than half of the country’s 77 provinces.
Singapore and Malaysia have also seen an increase in cases among migrant workers who mainly live crowded dorms which provide the ideal conditions for the virus to grow.
In Thailand, the government’s COVID-19 task force has recommended extending an emergency decree that gives power to health authorities and provincial governors until the end of February.
Prayuth eased Bangkok city authorities’ requirement for restaurants and food vendors in the capital to shut down food services at 7 p.m. (12 p.m. GMT), giving owners two extra hours to continue trading. Take-out meals will be allowed.
The sale of alcohol was banned in restaurants, while bars and nightclubs in the capital and high-risk provinces were ordered to close. Provincial governors have been empowered to set their own restrictions.
Schools and educational centers across the country have been closed for a month.