BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand on Monday reported 15,376 coronavirus cases, a record number for a second consecutive day, amid public criticism over the pace of the country’s vaccination rollout that has fallen behind some neighbours.
The Southeast Asian nation, which has recorded a cumulative total of 512,678 infections, also reported 87 new deaths, bringing total fatalities to 4,146.
After managing to contain virus cases for most of last year, authorities have struggled to deal with outbreaks driven by new variants in recent months, including the Delta variant first detected in India.
Thailand aims to inoculate 50 million people by the end of the year, but so far only 5.6% of its more than 66 million population are fully inoculated, while 18.94% have received at least one dose.
The country’s vaccine strategy has relied heavily on locally produced doses of AstraZeneca vaccine by Thai company Siam Bioscience, but deliveries have faced delays.
Thousands of people aged over 60, as well as pregnant women and people with health issues such as obesity queued up on Monday at Bangkok’s Bang Sue central train station, as part of a government scheme to vaccinate people in vulnerable groups.
“I believe that the virus can be eliminated from the country, if everyone is vaccinated,” said 48-year-old Charn, who declined to give his full name and was accompanying elderly relatives getting vaccinated at a Bangkok train station.
Last week, faced by surging infections Thailand imposed tighter lockdown measures in the capital, Bangkok, and 12 high-risk provinces, suspending most domestic fights and expanding curfew area.
(Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Artorn Pookasuk; Editing by Ed Davies)