Bangkok shuts parks, gyms after record daily coronavirus infections

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A closed bar is seen on Friday afternoon, in Bangkok

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's capital Bangkok has ordered the closure of public venues and sports premises, city official said on Saturday after the country reported a record daily rise in coronavirus cases and deaths amid a third wave of infections.

The closures, effective from Monday until May 9, apply to venues including public parks, gyms, swimming pools, meeting halls, internet shops, daycares centres, sports fields, museums and libraries, said Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, a Bangkok Metropolitan Administration spokesman.

Bangkok and 40 provinces have also ordered the wearing of face masks in public mandatory.

The new measures come after the Thai Retailers Association restricted opening hours for shopping malls to between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. for a week from Sunday.

Restaurants in the malls will be allowed to stay open an hour later, while convenience stores will be permitted to operate from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Schools, bars and massage parlours were shut a week ago and will remain closed until next month, while alcohol sales have been banned in restaurants in an effort to increase social distancing.

Officials reported 2,839 new coronavirus cases and eight new deaths on Saturday, bringing Thailand's total to 53,022 cases and 129 deaths.

The country has managed to keep its caseload far lower than many countries, but the new outbreak, spurred in part by the highly-transmissible B.1.1.7 variant, has resulted in 24,000 infections and 35 infections in just 24 days.

"Government agencies and the private sector should allow staff to work from home as much as possible because we don't want to introduce more strict measures," said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government coronavirus taskforce.

The taskforce said there are currently enough hospital beds in the country to deal with the outbreak.

The country's beleaguered vaccine rollout got a boost on Saturday with the arrival of 500,000 doses of China's Sinovac Biotech's vaccine.

Just under 1 million people have been vaccinated in the country of around 66 million.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has promised to source more vaccines to inoculate 50 million Thais by the end of the year.

(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Jane Wardell and Mike Harrison)