COVID traced across Bangkok as more provinces close due to 2nd wave

Police investigate a suspected gambling den Sunday in Rayong city where an outbreak cluster emerged.
Police investigate a suspected gambling den Sunday in Rayong city where an outbreak cluster emerged.

Nineteen of the latest 115 cases of locally transmitted coronavirus occurred in Bangkok, health officials announced today, while the governor of the province where the outbreak emerged tested positive for the disease it causes.

Seventeen Thais and two migrant Laos workers tested positive in the capital, 10 of which were linked to the same seafood market southwest in Samut Sakhon province where the outbreak emerged 10 days ago, COVID-19 task force spokesman Taweesilp Wisanuyothin announced. The other nine were still being investigated and further details would be announced, he said.

Taweesilp used his daily briefing to warn that darker days could be ahead.

“Even a high-ranking official got infected in … the highest-controlled area,” Taweesilp said. “All provinces should strengthen measures as health officials suggest. If not, the curve of infections could become steeper by a thousand or even 10,000 more cases by next month.”

That came hours after City Hall early this morning disclosed information about 22 cases which included two migrant Myanmar workers employed by a shoe factory in the Rama II Road area, and a 28-year-old Chinese tourist staying downtown in the Khlong Toei district who had been traveling around the Sukhumvit Road area by taxi. Neither his hotel nor specific venues were disclosed.

As of today, 94 cases have been found in the capital in a widening outbreak that has infected at least 2,057 people in at least 42 provinces and the capital during a peak travel time for the year-end holidays. The provinces of Surin, Narathiwat, Nakhon Nayok, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai and Lopburi have recently found their first cases.

In its new color-coded health threat assessment, Rayong yesterday joined Samut Sakhon, which is locked down for at least the next week, on the “red” list. Four provinces including Bangkok are at orange, meaning high-risk businesses may be suspended and a curfew enacted. Other places under lockdown down include Krabi and Rayong cities.

Capital city residents recently found to be ill included seven seafood vendors, two government employees, two gold shopkeepers, four office workers, and a Don Mueang Airport intern. Their recent whereabouts included Ekkamai Road, Victory Monument, Pridi Banomyong Road, a Sathorn-area office building, the CentralwOrld and Platinum shopping malls, Ikea Bang Na, Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus, On Nut Road, Don Mueang, and the CentralPlaza Pinklao shopping mall. 

Samut Sakhon provincial Gov. Veerasak Vijitsaengsri tested positive for the disease, according to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who recently had several meetings with him. He and other exposed health officials have so far tested negative but are isolating at home for 14 days.

“He got infected because he has been working hard to take care and protect the public from the virus,” Anutin wrote online. “But he got it himself although he was highly protected, this showed that there is room for error. He didn’t show any symptoms.”

More clusters were discovered over the weekend in Krabi and Rayong provinces. The cluster in Krabi was traced to a biker from Samut Sakhon heading to a party on Koh Lanta. In Rayong, dozens contracted the disease at illegal gambling dens. Rayong found 56 more cases today alone and its governor has ordered several business types and venues closed in Rayong city, including schools, beauty clinics, gyms, child- and senior-care centers, massage parlors, malls and parks. Pubs and similar establishments are closed in all of its districts as well as boxing stadiums, cockfighting arenas and billiards venues. Krabi’s governor has taken the same precaution in the city district except for the Phi Phi islands.

With the new wave of infections not slowing down, high-end Bangkok shopping mall Iconsiam on Saturday decided to scale down its New Year’s Eve event to just a firework show. Concerts were canceled to prevent people from gathering.

The latest numbers today bring the case load to 6,285 infections since the outbreak began in January. The death toll has stood at 60 since November.

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