Dutch, Thai, Viet officials eye new curbs

·3-min read

A surge in coronavirus cases in the Netherlands, Vietnam and Thailand has spurred authorities to look at new restrictions to curb infection rates.

The Dutch government said on Friday it would re-impose restrictions on nightclubs, music festivals and restaurants in response to a surge in COVID-19 infections among young adults.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the measures would take effect from Saturday morning and remain in place until August 14.

The Netherlands lifted most lockdown measures on June 26 as cases were falling and around two-thirds of the population has received at least one vaccination shot.

But, with bars, restaurants and nightclubs open again, new cases have risen at the fastest pace in months, with about 7000 cases reported over the 24-hours through Friday morning.

That compared to fewer than 1000 a week earlier.

The total number of new infections in the past week jumped to 22,000, almost five times more than a week before.

So far, however, the new spike in infections has not led to an increase of COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

Officials in Thailand on Friday announced a seven-hour curfew and other restrictions for the capital and nine other provinces to try to slow a growing number of cases and deaths in a coronavirus surge that began in early April.

People living in Bangkok and five surrounding provinces along with four in the country's far south, where the virus is also rampant, are required to remain at home from 9pm to 4am, not hold gatherings of more than five people and avoid unnecessary travel.

The restrictions take effect on Monday and will be reviewed after two weeks, Deputy Health Minister Satit Pitutacha said.

In the greater Bangkok area, shopping centres will be closed except for businesses such as supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, take-out food, mobile phone sales and repair and vaccination centres, all of which must close by 8pm, which is also the closing time for public parks.

Restaurants have already been limited to take-out service since June 28.

Convenience stores must close from 8pm to 4am and beauty salons and massage parlours must shut entirely.

Public transport will stop running from 9pm to 4am and working from home is strongly encouraged.

Schools will be closed, with only online learning allowed.

Vietnam also imposed tighter restrictions on Friday, locking down Ho Chi Minh City, the country's largest metropolis and its economic and financial hub, for two weeks.

The southern city's 9 million residents are only permitted to leave home to buy food, medicine and for other urgent matters during that time.

Vietnam was able to limit its total coronavirus cases to 2800 during the first year of the pandemic and reported almost no new cases in the three months up to the end of April when they began to climb rapidly.

In the last two months, the country has recorded 22,000 new cases and the less stringent restrictions imposed so far have been unable to stem the rise.

with AP

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