[Update-1] Thailand discovers 427 new coronavirus cases; new measures to be enforced

Thailand discovered 427 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours with the majority of cases still in migrant worker dormitories with some cases of local transmission.

According to the Ministry of Public Health, there were 16 cases of local transmission. The ministry also said that it had found 397 more cases in migrant worker dormitories.

The rest were found in state quarantine.

There are now a total of 22 confirmed cases that are related to the latest outbreak. Of that, nine were found in Bangkok, three in Samut Prakan, three in Saraburi, three in Pathum Thani, three in Nakhon Pathom, and one case in Uttaradit.

The ministry had previously said for the public to anticipate increasing numbers as authorities continued to do contact tracing and mass testing.

The government said that it expects to test up to 20,000 people in migrant worker dormitories in the coming days and has quarantined the workers to the dorms.

The outbreak, which started in the fishing hub of Samut Sakhon and its fresh markets, has now spread to more than six provinces and those that have visited Samut Sakhon in the past fortnight are being encouraged to get tested.

Samut Sakhon

The number of migrant workers infected with Covid-19 has increased from 876 to a total of 1,273 confirmed cases as of Tuesday.

Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesperson of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said that an area of two kilometers around Talad Klang Kung, including the migrant worker dormitories, is now considered a red zone.

He said of the 2,051 Thai and foreign people tested in the red zone, 914 or 44 per cent were found to have been infected with the virus.

A yellow zone, a four kilometers around the Talad Klang Kung, including Thai Union’s  dormitories and the Talay Thai Market, was found to have an infection rate of 8-14 per cent.

The health ministry said they have now tested more than 5,000 samples and are awaiting the results of 5,000 other samples.

Officials from the ministry are trying to locate 1,000 frequent customers of Talad Klang Kung who have travelled to at least 22 provinces, Taweesin added.

These provinces include:

Chiang Mai, Phetchabun, Nakhon Ratchasima, Samut Prakan, Prachinburi, Chachoengsao, Chonburi, Rayong, Saraburi, Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya, Nonthaburi, Bangkok, Suphan Buri, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Songkhram, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon and Songkhla.

Bangkok Measures

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) on Monday night announced four additional coronavirus prevention measures including:

1.      Mask wearing, social distancing measures, and crowd size that must be strictly enforced at all markets.

2.      Parks must not be crowded and group activities are banned. Those visiting parks must use the check in system.

3.      Religious places must enforce a check-in system.

4.      Entertainment venues must adhere to social distancing measures with screens between tables, no dancing, and no sale promotion activities. Any venue that wants to arrange an event with more than 300 people must ask for permission. 

Earlier measures that were announced include: 

1.      The shutting down of schools in districts that are next to Samut Sakhon until January 14 including the ones in Bang Khun Thian, Bang Bon and Nong Khaem.

2.      Entertainment venues must adhere to mask wearing, social distancing, and regular cleaning measures.

3.      Private parties with large gatherings must ask for permission.

4.      24 hours checkpoints to screen for migrant workers in four major transit roads including Petchkasem, Rama II, Boromrajonani, and Bang Khun Thian.

5.      No public gathering in parks.

6.      Mass testing of migrant workers and Thai traders at all 472 fresh markets in Bangkok.

7.      Mass testing of migrant workers in the construction industry.

8.      Banning migrant workers from entering religious places in Bangkok.

9.      Schools will check on migrant students and their parents to screen for coronavirus.

10.  Bureaucrats and officials that travel between Bangkok and Samut Sakhon will now work from home.  

Inspections and disinfection in Bangkok

Siam Square One remains open on Tuesday but three stores within the complex visited a patient that tested positive on December 14 are closed for disinfection.

The three stores include Eve and Boy, White Flower Factory, and Chewit Cheewa.

Both Eve and Boy and Chewit Cheewa said all of the employees that were working at their branch in Siam Square One on December 14 have now been tested and are in self-quarantine.

The Chatuchak District Office said on Tuesday that public health officials will be inspecting seafood stores and migrant workers previously working in Samut Sakhon.  

The office will focus on Bon Marché Market Park, Amonphan Market, Bang Khen Market, and Si Sena Market.

In Samut Sakhon, the country’s second biggest fish market, Mae Klong Fish Market, will be temporarily closed between December 23 and January 4 to prevent any further spread of the coronavirus in the province.  

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