A man wearing a face mask walks past a colourful concrete wall (Image for representation) Photograph:( AFP )
In May, 10,748 inmates have been infected with COVID-19 in eight jails even as authorities have been carrying out testing in prisons
Thailand reported daily record of 9,635 new coronavirus cases with nearly 75 per cent from prisoners infected in jails.
The combined cases have shot up to over 111,000 with 25 new deaths reported on Monday as the total death toll went up to 614.
Thai authorities admitted there were growing clusters in jails after several prominent activists tested positive.
"During the first outbreak, we barely had infectious cases among the inmates or the prison staff, only a few people. Then came the second wave, the number moved up into the tens and now during the third wave, cases have increased into the hundreds and thousands," Aryut Sinthoppan, director-general of the department of corrections, said.
In May, 10,748 inmates have been infected with COVID-19 in eight jails even as authorities have been carrying out testing in prisons and more positive cases are reportedly expected as authorities aim to test every prisoner.
"Currently, the corrections department is overseeing 311,540 inmates. The number is quite high. We also have around 13,000 prison staff working across the country," Sinthoppan added.
Sinthoppan informed that cells inside the prisons were "outdated" and "cramped" due to overcrowding of prisoners.
Thailand has an inmate population of 310,000 in 143 jails. Before the current wave, Thailand had largely appeared to have kept the virus under check but the third wave has been wreaking havoc.
New infections since April has seen cases more than triple and deaths increase six times.
The country has yet to start its mass immunisation drive which is expected to start in June when locally manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine is scheduled to become available.
The country has so far administered 1.48 million jabs to frontline workers and those in at-risk groups.