[Update 2] Thailand discovers 216 new Covid-19 cases; new zoning

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health announced on Saturday that it had discovered 216 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and that one person died from the virus.

Of the 216 new coronavirus cases, 182 were local infection cases, 32 in migrant dormitories, and two in quarantine facilities.

The new fatality brings the death toll to 64.

The new death occurred in Chonburi province.

The 47-year-old female patient had diabetes and received the virus from a gambling den on December 30.

Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, the spokesperson of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said even though the number of new cases has declined on Saturday, the potential of finding new cases is still on an upward trend.

Outbreak clusters

Of the 182 new local cases, Samut Sakhon and Chonburi saw the highest number with 37 and 32 cases, respectively.

This is followed by Rayong (27), Nonthaburi (25), Samut Prakan (23), Bangkok (18) and Chanthaburi (10).

The rest were found in Pathum Thani (2), Nakhon Pathom (2), Ang Thong (2) and one each in Chai Nat, Ratchaburi, Ayutthaya, and Suphan Buri.

Dr Taweesin urged people who have come in close contact with people who have tested positive for the virus to practice self-quarantine immediately.

The number of provinces that the second wave has spread to is still at 53.

New zoning

Dr Taweesin said the government has assessed that the new round of outbreak is “becoming harder to contain”.

He said new cases are still being reported from the original cluster in Samut Sakhon.

The new clusters in Bangkok and Rayong are spreading out to various districts with fatalities while many new cases were also unable to be traced back to the original cluster.

At the same time, people are failing to practice self-quarantine after they came into close contact with people who have tested positive for the virus.  

Many people also do not avoid activities that are at risk of spreading the virus such as attending an illegal gambling den.

This is why stricter prevention measures are needed for the entire country to try and lower the number of new cases and preserve the country’s medical capacity that is depleting, he added.

The CCSA now proposed for new zoning to be effective from January 4 onwards until February 1 where 28 provinces will be considered as highly controlled areas (red).

This includes; Tak, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Lopburi, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Nakhon Nayok, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Suphan Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon, Chachoengsao, Prachinburi, Sa Kaeo, Samut Prakan, Chanthaburi, Chonburi, Trat, Rayong, Chumphon, Ranong and Bangkok.

The rest are controlled areas (11 provinces – orange) and highly monitored areas (38 provinces – yellow).

Dr Taweesin said the measures in highly controlled areas include early closing times and the temporary shutdown of venues that are at risk of spreading the coronavirus.

This is similar to what Bangkok had announced on Friday.

People are being urged to avoid traveling between provinces and some restrictions will be in place for people traveling in and out of highly controlled areas.

Schools in 28 highly-controlled provinces will be done online. Employers are also encouraged to practice the work from home model.

More details will be provided when the measures come into effect on January 4.

Dr Taweesin said if these measures failed to stop the increase of new infections after February 1, stricter measures including checkpoints to restrict traveling from highly-controlled provinces will be in place.

A curfew is not an option at the moment but more provinces could also be placed into the highly-controlled area category if the outbreak situation did not improve by then, he added.

Map of the second outbreak

The second wave of the outbreak which started in Samut Sakhon first spread to six provinces between December 18 and December 20.

It had now spread to 53 provinces with the discovery of new clusters in Rayong and Bangkok.

The rising number of new cases was becoming more apparent from December 23 onwards until the first dip on Thursday after some earlier lockdown measures were introduced in highly-controlled areas as seen here;

December 23 = 46 new cases
December 24 = 67 new cases
December 25 = 81 new cases
December 26 = 110 new cases
December 27 = 121 new cases
December 28 = 144 new cases
December 29 = 155 new cases
December 30 = 250 new cases
December 31 = 194 news cases
Janruary 1 = 279 new cases
Janruary 2 = 216 new cases

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