Rise in new COVID cases attributed to Thai returnees

Travelers meet serious disease control measures Sunday at Don Mueang International Airport. Photo: Don Mueang International Airport-DMK / Facebook
Travelers meet serious disease control measures Sunday at Don Mueang International Airport. Photo: Don Mueang International Airport-DMK / Facebook

Health officials reported nine new COVID-19 infection cases today, the most since May 4.

All involved Thai men returned from overseas who tested positive at government quarantine facilities: two from the United States, one from Qatar and six students back from Saudi Arabia.

COVID-19 task force spokesman Taweeslip Wisanuyothin said he was concerned that a number of masseuses have taken ill but said that would not affect their evaluation of whether massage parlors may reopen in the next phase of relaxed measures.

Massage parlors along with boxing stadiums and theaters have been discussed in recent days as officials weigh which businesses should be allowed to reopen next. They have also mentioned bars but have yet to announce any final decision on Phase 3.

Parks, salons, gyms, malls and restaurants were some of the businesses allowed to resume under strict limitations in the first two phases earlier this month.

Asked whether bars and hotels would be allowed to reopen next, he said no decision has been announced yet and owners should not take action until it is confirmed.

He said that government tracking platform Thailand Wins, now ubiquitous at places of business nationwide, is available in English and may be developed into a full smartphone app to tackle the significant gap in people who use it to check in vs. bother to check out.

“People seem to forget to scan on their way out a lot. However, the new app will allow people to check out from home as long as they check in any shops they have visited,” Taweeslip said.

Since announcing 18 infections on May 4, daily reports had dwindled into the single digits. Today’s nine newly confirmed cases brought the total to 3,054 known infections since the outbreak began in January. Testing remains very limited, or according to health officials, “targeted.” The official death toll stands at 57.

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