Massive Mahachai Market shut down after seafood vendor contracts COVID-19

File photo of Mahachai Market in Samut Sakhon province. Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Sports Thailand
File photo of Mahachai Market in Samut Sakhon province. Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Sports Thailand

Update: Three of the woman’s relatives (her mother, 95; sister, 73; and sister-in-law, 57) have now tested positive for the virus. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul suspects they were infected by fishermen from Myanmar.

One of Thailand’s largest seafood markets located southwest of Bangkok has been shut down after a vendor there was confirmed to have COVID-19.

Health officials today ordered the Mahachai Market in Samut Sakhon province to close three days for cleaning after a 67-year-old stall owner was confirmed to have been infected at the sprawling market. It comes nearly a week after a seventh case of local transmission involving medical personnel was linked to a dirty quarantine doorknob.

The source of the vendor’s infection is still unknown, but many who work and live in what is Thailand’s Cannery Row come from Myanmar, where a major outbreak has been underway for several months. The female vendor has not left the area where she lives and works, let alone traveled outside the kingdom. 

The last known case of transmission in the wild came Dec. 4 when a 30-year-old Chiang Rai man tested positive after coming into contact with one of many Thai workers fleeing the Myanmar outbreak.

Initial contact-tracing found 18 people at high risk of infection, including six medical personnel, two migrant Myanmar laborers, and 10 of the vendor’s family members and associates. Ten have already tested negative so far.

The woman was experiencing symptoms on Sunday such as muscle aches and loss of her sense of smell. She went to Mahachai Hospital on Wednesday and tested positive twice there. She did not have the flu.

Thailand all but stamped out COVID-19 over six months ago, but occasional infections are reported. A fresh scare earlier this month fueled by dozens of infected Thai workers fleeing Myanmar saw trips to the north canceled. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul today asked health officials to resolve the case quickly to so it would not impact the year-end holidays.

Earlier this month, seven nurses were infected at a Bangkok quarantine facility. The seventh was announced this past Saturday. Officials said all cases were traced back to an infected doorknob at a quarantine hotel.

Health officials announced 16 new cases today, including the vendor and those quarantine facilities after traveling to Thailand. The kingdom’s reported 4,297 cases and 60 deaths since January.


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