Hundreds of people queued hours today for free COVID-19 tests in Thonglor as health officials trace more than 500 infections to nearby nightlife areas.
A large crowd formed in front of Arena 10’s Barbarbar pub, a venue where at least five people are known to have taken ill. Three royally provided mobile biosafety units administered 1,176 tests on Thursday, according to disease control official Wichan Pawan. They will return Friday and Saturday.
About 100 of the roughly 2,000 people tested since Monday came back positive for COVID-19, according to a health worker there who declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He said that the majority of those found to have contracted the disease were from high-risk groups including nightlife operators and their families.
Social distancing was not practiced in the line and people crowded close together. Some there said they were worried the testing site could become a super-spreader event itself. Police at the venue said they are aware of the complaints and would streamline things for Friday.
Ekkamai office worker Pichet Kraijai arrived at 8am and was still waiting at 1pm for her test.
“They should announce a definite number of how many people can get the service each day. In the morning they said everyone here will get a swab. Ten minutes ago they said only 500 more. Now they must have changed it to everyone here again, because I was counted No. 500,” she said, noting that more people remained in line behind her.
Pichet said that while its nice that the service is free and people can know their results within hours, health officials should do more to improve the wait time.
More than 600 people, many restaurant and nearby office workers, were still in line at about noon as they waited for personnel to return from their lunch break. Some said they had arrived as early as 7am.
Pichet said she came seeking a COVID-free certificate to travel back to her hometown for next week’s Songkran holidays. Though she was confident she did not have the disease, she said the document would help put her family at ease when she visits.
Health workers declined to give queue numbers for those who showed up, with testing available only on a first-come, first-served basis for those who stayed in line.
The mobile units outside Barbarbar pub will operate 9am to 3pm Friday and Saturday with the goal of testing 1,000 people each day.
Health officials announced 405 new cases today, 95 of which were found in Bangkok. The death toll remains at 95.
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