Cautious optimism as Thailand’s COVID-19 outbreak appears to level off

Seventy-two new cases of locally transmitted coronavirus infections have been found, 37 of which were detected in provinces throughout Thailand. 

Thirty-five of 81 new cases were found in the outbreak cluster of migrant workers, over 90% of which were asymptomatic, Taweesilp Wissanuyothin of the Disease Control Department announced today. Nine were found in state-managed quarantine facilities.

Though hundreds of new cases were found as recently as Tuesday as the extent of the Mahachai outbreak became known and thousands were tested, they have since tapered off. Though dozens of cases have been found in a growing number of provinces – the outbreak’s reached nearly half of them – today’s new case count was not much more than Thursday’s 67, of which 55 were migrant workers. 

“The current situation is still controllable,” Taweesilp said. “Yet if things get worse, we must join hands and prepare for stricter measures, such as a lockdown and curfew like we had in March.”

While a national lockdown has yet to be imposed, Taweesilp said there was only one red zone in the color-coded system put in place yesterday to identify outbreaks by severity on a province-by-province basis.

For now that’s only Samut Sakhon, the epicenter of the most recent outbreak that’s seen more than 1,000 infections detected in one week’s time. In red zones, public gatherings are banned while movement of migrant workers is strictly prohibited. A curfew and closure of high-risk businesses are under consideration.

The capital city of Bangkok is at a more relaxed orange. That means mass gatherings are prohibited, but events with a limited number of attendees are “negotiable.” Online events are highly encouraged.At this point, private New Year’s Eve parties have not been ordered to cancel although City Hall has called off its large-scale events.

Six new cases were found in Bangkok traced back to the Mahachai seafood market in Samut Sakhon to the southwest. The were: a female office worker, 31; two female vendors, both 37;  two male vendors, 41 and 54; and a female government employee, 57. 

After over six months of near-zero infections, the virus has cropped up in 3o provinces and the capital: Bangkok, Chachoengsao, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Petchaburi, Samut Prakan, Saraburi, Uttaradit, Phetchabun, Suphanburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Prachinburi, Krabi, Phuket, Ayutthaya, Kampangpetch, Khon Kaen, Chainat, Samut Songkhram, Udon Thani, Pichit, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Sawan, Nonthaburi, Ang Thong, Ratchaburi, Songkhla, Loei and Ubon Ratchathani.

As of today, Thailand has announced 5,910 COVID-19 infections since the outbreak began in January. Fatalities still stand at 60.

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