The government said on Tuesday that the country’s coronavirus outbreak situation is improving, despite the high number of cases that are being found via pro-active screenings, and as 836 new cases were reported in the previous 24 hours.
Increased efforts in conducting proactive tests are ongoing throughout the country, especially at factories and migrant dormitories in Samut Sakhon and the districts in Bangkok that are connected to Samut Sakhon, said Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA),
He urged people living in these two provinces to continue to strictly observe Covid-prevention guidelines such as wearing face masks and washing their hands, as more cases are being found in these two provinces than elsewhere.
However, he added that the overall outbreak situation throughout the country is improving.
“The country’s outbreak situation is improving where the areas of cases that are being found are limited to specific areas and restrictions measures are already in place in these areas,” he said.
“High-ranking health officials are constantly visiting and monitoring in these areas to make sure that the outbreak is contained within these areas while businesses, Thai people and migrant workers in these areas are fully cooperating but more cases are still being found, similar to what Singapore is facing right now,” he added.
Taweesin said there is no way to safely extract 400,000 people out of these high-risk communities and then isolate them elsewhere so they must remain where they are and the government can only contain the area.
“This is called a ‘bubble and seal’ strategy to create a wall to surround the infected areas but these are human beings not objects so we cannot stop them from moving around but we still want to ask for as little mobility within these areas as possible,” he said.
He also asked for people who have been to high-risk districts to avoid large crowds when they go back to their home towns.
The government first said in December that they will only contain migrant workers inside their dormitories near a fresh market in Samut Sakhon, the site where the second wave of the outbreak began, for up to a month at most.
Taweesin did not say on Tuesday how long the government was planning to keep them in there while the majority of 300,000 migrant workers in Singapore have been contained in their dormitories for over 10 months now.
Singapore’s ministry of health reported in December that almost half of Singapore’s migrant workers were infected with Covid-19.
Of the 819 local infections reported on Tuesday, 787 were found in Samut Sakhon, mostly via proactive tests (688), followed by 29 in Bangkok, two in Samut Songkhram and one case in Nonthaburi.
Of the 29 cases that were found in the capital, 22 were found via proactive tests, most of them (19) were migrant workers who were working at factories in Phasi Charoen districts and the majority of them (18) were asymptomatic.
There were 848, 716, 724, 692, 890, 731, 793 and 710 confirmed cases that were found via proactive tests that were found between January 26 and February 2 compared to 89, 92, 22, 86, 26, 91, 39 and 109 cases that were found via tests at medical facilities during the same period of time.
Thailand’s government said on Tuesday that it had found 836 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.
Of those, 819 were local infections and 17 were found in quarantine facilities, according to CCSA.
Of the 819 local infections, 109 were found via tests at medical facilities and 710 via proactive tests at high-risk communities.
This brings the total number of infections since the pandemic began last year to 20,454 cases while 13,217 people have recovered from the disease and 7,158 patients are being treated.
There were two new fatalities, which brings the death toll up to 79 people.
One of the deceased patients was an elderly female, 75, from Samut Sakhon who was living with high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia. She contracted the virus from her husband before testing positive on January 29.
The other deceased patient was a male trader, 68, who was suffering from diabetes and kidney failure who contracted the virus while visiting Samut Sakhon before testing positive on January 7.
The second wave of the outbreak has led to 16,217 confirmed cases and 19 deaths between December 15 and February 2.
Clusters and provinces
The second wave of the outbreak has reached 63 out of the 77 provinces in Thailand so far.
The hardest-hit province continues to be Samut Sakhon, which reported 11,969 confirmed cases between December 18 and February 2.
This was followed by Bangkok (795), Chonburi (649), Rayong (580), Samut Prakan (360), Chanthaburi (221), Nonthaburi (166) and Ang Thong (113).
The government has last week started to relax Covid-prevention and restriction measures in partially locked down provinces.
The new zoning for applying these measures is now in place.
Thirty-five provinces are now considered as “under surveillance” areas in the green zone, 17 provinces are “under high surveillance” areas in the yellow zone, 20 provinces are in the “controlled” areas in orange zone, and four provinces in the “highly controlled” areas in red.
The four highly controlled provinces are Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi and Pathumthani.
Samut Sakhon is the only “highly and strictly controlled” province, in maroon.
The CCSA said on Monday that the relaxation of the Covid-prevention and restriction measures will be done in three phases.
The first phase was between 25 and 31 January with many provinces being reassigned to zones with fewer restrictions, and more pro-active tests conducted throughout the country.
The second phase will be between February 1 and 7 when more pro-active tests will be conducted among high-risk communities. There would be no changes to the restrictions across the country.
The CCSA expects the number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases to begin to decrease during this period and if they do, they will continue with the relaxation of the measures in third phase between February 8 and 15.