Thailand battles rising Covid cases, as prison infection clusters send cases to record high

Thailand saw a record number of new Covid infections nationally on Monday, as an outbreak inside the country’s prison system contributed to a spike in new cases amid a third wave health officials are struggling to contain.

The figures released by Thailand’s Covid task force showed that, out of the 9,635 new infections reported on May 17, some 6,853 were inside the nation’s prison system.

As officials and health workers try to contain the prison outbreaks, around half of the 24,000 inmates tested so far have been found to have contracted Covid. The country’s Department of Corrections is set to continue testing all of its 310,000 prisoners to determine the extent of the outbreak.

If the threat posed by the virus is considered severe enough, inmates could be granted a special temporary probation until it is deemed safe for them to return to prison to finish their sentences.

The Covid situation in the prison system was highlighted earlier in May, when activists from Thailand’s political protest movement announced they had tested positive for Covid after being released from pre-trial detention on bail.

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Until April, the kingdom had managed to contain Covid-19 by imposing strict measures on individuals arriving into the country. However, a third wave that started in Bangkok has taken the total of confirmed cases from 30,000, earlier in 2021, to 111,000 as of May 17.

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