Bangkok to close schools for two weeks as number of COVID-19 cases rise

A student wearing a face mask has her body temperature checked due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) before entering a school in Bangkok
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BANGKOK (Reuters) - The Thai capital of Bangkok will close all schools for two weeks after the New Year holiday as it tightens measures to control a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the city said on Friday.

Thailand confirmed 279 new coronavirus cases on Friday, with the majority of them linked to a cluster among migrant workers in Samut Sakhon province south of Bangkok, and another cluster linked to illegal gambling dens that started in the eastern province of Rayong.

These new clusters have started to spread into Bangkok, prompting the city's administrator to tighten measures to curb the spread of the virus.

"We begin to detect new cases linked to students and other service businesses," said Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, the spokesman for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

"Therefore we decided to close more places," he said.

All schools, daycare centres for the young and elderly, preschool and tutorial centres will be close from January 4 to 17 while other public facilities including amusement parks, playgrounds, public baths and massage parlours will be closed starting from Saturday, he said.

Pongsakorn also said the city is considering restrictions on eating-in at restaurants but said that more discussions were needed with the government COVID-19 taskforce on Saturday.

Thailand recorded two new deaths from coronavirus on Friday, taking the total number of infections to 7,163 and the number of deaths to 63 since the outbreak started last January.

The majority of the new cases resulted from local transmission of the disease while six were imported from abroad, the government COVID-19 taskforce said.

(Writing by Kay Johnson and Panu Wongcha-um: Editing by Neil Fullick)