Government deploys vaccines to Myanmar border areas

The Thai government is urgently allocating coronavirus vaccines for border officials and people living in border areas to prepare for the possible influx of refugees from Myanmar, the spokeswoman of the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) Dr Apisamai Srirangsan said Wednesday.

“As we can see in the news, there are refugees coming in from the neighbouring country and our front-line officials have to interact with them so they are going to be receiving the vaccines as well,” she said.

The country has procured 1 million doses of Sinovac and 117,000 of AstraZeneca vaccines so far.

The initial plan was to allocate 800,000 vaccines to the 22 highest-priority provinces first, namely the ones that are hardest-hit, economically important, or on the border. The plan has now changed to 960,000 doses for 52 of the country’s 77 provinces.

Of those, 350,000 are destined for six hardest-hit provinces, 240,000 for eight tourism destinations, 50,000 doses for immigration and detention officials and people living in border areas in eight border provinces, and 320,000 for the remaining 30 provinces as preparation for the major roll out in June, when the local production of the AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to roll out.

Latest reports at the border said 2,000-3,000 Myanmar refugees fleeing airstrikes and ground attacks from the Burmese Junta have tried to cross the border into Thailand in recent days.

Thai officials and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said that the refugees were asked to turn back without threat of force, and that most have done so.

Local official in Mae Hong Sorn said they are preparing to receive refugees but so far, most interaction with Burmese refugees is by the Thai military.

Daily numbers

The CCSA reported 42 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

Of those, 24 were local infections and 18 were found to be imported.

Of the 24 local infections, 19 were found via tests at medical facilities and five via proactive tests at known clusters.

Of the 18 imported cases, 16 were found in quarantine facilities and two were illegal returnees from Myanmar and Malaysia.

This brings the total number of infections since the pandemic began last year to 28,868 cases. While 27,426 people have recovered from the disease, 1,343 patients are still being treated.

There was no new fatality, leaving the death toll at 94 people.

Clusters and provinces

The second wave of the outbreak has reached 67 out of the 77 provinces in Thailand so far. Of the 67 provinces, 39 have not reported any case in the past 28 days.

The hardest-hit province continues to be Samut Sakhon, where the second wave began, which reported 17,112 confirmed cases since December 15.

This was followed by Bangkok (2,175), Pathumthani (763), Chonburi (658), Rayong (584), Samut Prakan (415), Chanthaburi (221), Tak (214), Nonthaburi (198), Nakhon Pathom (173) and Ang Thong (125), respectively.

Of the 24 local infections reported on Wednesday, 11 were found in Samut Sakhon, followed by 10 in Bangkok and three in Samut Prakan.

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