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Death toll rises in overcrowded prisons

Health authorities reported 34 new Covid-19 fatalities on Saturday and another 4,803 cases — including 2,702 in prisons.

The nationwide death toll has now reached 988 and the number of cases since the start of the pandemic is 149,779. A total of 22,398 cases have been reported in prisons since the Corrections Department began disclosing figures.

The third coronavirus wave that began on April 1 has infected 120,916 people, 74,885 of whom have recovered, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said on Saturday.

Bangkok accounted for 21 of the 38 fatalities reported in the last 24 hours, said Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the CCSA spokesman.

Two deaths each were reported in Pathum Thani, Chiang Rai and Samut Prakan, along with one each in Phetchaburi, Phetchabun, Nonthaburi, Ayutthaya, Ratchaburi, Songkhla and Saraburi.

Twenty of those who died had hypertension, according to the CCSA.

Other existing health conditions were diabetes, high cholesterol, chronic kidney disseae, lung and heart diseases, obesity, liver disease and stroke.

Five said that to their knowledge they did not have any pre-existing health conditions.

Sixteen of those who died had caught the virus from family members, and two from friends. Five had visited areas where outbreaks had been reported.

Of the 2,101 infections reported among the general population, 2,050 were local cases and the remaining 51 were found in people arriving from abroad. Bangkok had the most cases with 1,054, followed by Samut Prakan (215), Nonthaburi (186), Chon Buri (80), Pathum Thani (65), Phetchaburi (64), Samut Sakhon (43), Trang (37), Songkhla (31) and Nakhon Pathom (26).

Of the 49 provinces reporting cases in the past 24 hours, 10 had 10 cases or less. Twenty-eight provinces reported no new cases.

Authorities are keeping a close watch on numerous infection clusters in the capital.

Fifteen of the 43 active clusters in Bangkok occurred in construction workers’ camps and another 12 were linked to markets and shopping centres.

Covid-19 cases in prisons remain a major concern given the chronic overcrowding.

The prison population was estimated at 311,000 earlier this year by the International Federation for Human Rights.

That is more than two and a half times the system’s official capacity.

The 51 imported cases were found in arrivals from Saudi Arabia (three Thai women), Serbia (a Serbian woman) and Cambodia (34 Thai women and 12 Thai men).

One of the Thais from Cambodia returned through Sa Kaeo province via a natural border crossing.

Of the total 149,779 infections, 46,480 patients are still in hospitals — 18,720 in conventional hospitals and 27,760 at filed hospitals.

A total of 1,221 people are seriously ill and 406 of the critically ill people are on ventilators, Dr Taweesilp said.

About 1.64% of the population is now fully vaccinated, with 2,415,903 people having received their first dose and 1,088,222 receiving their second dose.

The pace of vaccinations is expected to pick up in June but authorities remain vague on exactly how many doses will be available and how they will be allocated.

Global Covid-19 cases rose by 505,813 in 24 hours to 170.12 million.

The worldwide death toll went up by 11,968 to 3.53 million.

India had 171,726 new cases for a total of 27.71 million and 3,563 new deaths for a total of 322,384. Thailand ranked 84th.

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