BANGKOK: Thailand on Friday (Apr 3) reported 103 new coronavirus cases and four more deaths, bringing its total number of cases to 1,978, a health official said.
There were four new deaths, bringing total fatalities to 19, said a spokesman for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, Taweesin Wisanuyothin.
The new deaths were all Thai males, including a 59-year-old who worked on a train.
Three new deaths ages between 72 and 84 were connected to a crowded boxing match that saw a large number of infections.
READ: Man found dead on Thai train tests positive for COVID-19
READ: Thailand reports 104 new COVID-19 cases, three new deaths
A six-hour night curfew will begin on Friday, authorities said on Thursday, warning anyone who breached the order faced a two-year jail term.
The curfew from 10pm to 4am bars everyone in the country from leaving their homes.
Exemptions will be made for essential staff, including medical workers, food and fuel transport staff, and postal services.
The government has come under criticism for not acting soon enough to curb the spread of the coronavirus – introducing incremental measures despite being the first country outside China to confirm a case, which happened in January.
In his Thursday address, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha urged citizens not to panic.
“You can buy things in the daytime,” he said.
Penalties for hoarding essential supplies such as face masks carry penalties of up to seven years in prison and a 140,000 baht (US$4,200) fine, he said.
The stepped-up measures also include an entry ban on all arrivals – including Thais – for two weeks.
Thais who insist on returning will be placed under state quarantine, though Prayut implored them to defer travel plans.
On Thursday, Bangkok’s popular markets were shuttered, while parks that were ordered to close were empty of joggers.
Thailand’s economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus, especially those employed in the informal sector.
The Bank of Thailand expects the economy to shrink by 5.3 per cent this year – a 22-year low – and nearly 22 million people have registered for cash handouts.