COVID not spreading undetected, task force says, vowing vigilance

Luggage arriving to Suvarnabhumi Airport from South Korea’s Incheon Airport gets seriously sanitized in an April 14 file photo. Photo: Suvarnabhumi Airport / Facebook
Luggage arriving to Suvarnabhumi Airport from South Korea’s Incheon Airport gets seriously sanitized in an April 14 file photo. Photo: Suvarnabhumi Airport / Facebook

Health officials today denied that the failure to detect new locally transmitted coronavirus infections means they aren’t trying hard enough.

While announcing that the day’s only new case came from overseas, the outbreak task force said its limited testing that targets “likely” populations; such as medical workers, state officials and new prisoners; had come back negative in the last 32,500 people tested.

“The ministry is on task to test 100,000 people classified in risky groups and areas, which began two weeks ago. So far over 32,000 people, or 32.56%, have been tested, and we haven’t found a positive case,” spokesperson Taweesilp Wisanuyothin said. 

Testing has never been widespread and officials have balked at the expense of expanding it outside of the narrow approach which they have given the muscular name “active case finding.” As segments of society reopen and public spaces fill again, “second wave” anxieties persist.

That led to some skepticism after all of the new cases logged in the past couple weeks were only found in Thais returning from abroad. 

Today, it was a 32-year-old student back from Saudi Arabia, along with the report of one additional death.

The student was diagnosed with the virus yesterday at a government quarantine facility in the southern province of Songkhla. She brought the number of known infections to 3,083 since January. 

The outbreak’s 58th domestic victim was an 80-year-old Thai Muslim infected along with hundreds of others at a religious gathering three months ago in Kuala Lumpur.

Asked whether Songkran will happen in July after being postponed from April due to the outbreak, the spokesman played down expectations and said nothing would be official until at least Friday.

“When I was asked yesterday if the Songkran holidays would be this July, what I said was if we do good today, it will predict our future,” Taweesilp said. “It will depend on the prime minister, so I can’t answer that”

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