Thailand reports UK variant, warns of new surge

Thailand has confirmed its first local cases of the British coronavirus variant following a cluster outbreak linked to bars and nightclubs in Bangkok last month.

The country reported over 400 new cases on Thursday.
The surge is linked to a new cluster that originated in entertainment venues in Bangkok's downtown nightclub districts.

Thai health officials said the UK variant had been found in over 20 cases in the cluster and warned that the variant spreads more rapidly than the original virus.

The Bangkok government on Monday ordered the closures of bars and entertainment facilities in areas where the cluster has been confirmed.

The central government said similar measures are to be implemented soon throughout the capital and in 40 other provinces.

The threat posed by the variant comes as Thailand prepares to celebrate its traditional New Year holiday next week.
The Songkran water festival usually involves water fights and an exodus of city people to visit their hometowns. The government has banned water splashing this year, but there are mounting concerns that the holiday could escalate the infections.