Months of lax attitudes and false alarms have ended with a genuine outbreak southwest of Bangkok which has now spread to at least seven provinces, including the capital.
A whopping 821 cases have now been linked to the Mahachai Market in Samut Sakhon province, health officials announced just before noon. North of the capital in Saraburi province, three people, all related, were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 by health officials this morning after visiting a large seafood market where the virus has ripped through dormitories mostly housing migrant workers from Myanmar. The outbreak has now reached Bangkok where four infections have now been found, as well as Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Suphanburi and Ratchaburi provinces.
The total number of cases is in flux as health officials are conducting mass testing on upward of 10,000 people there. The total caseload since the pandemic began has increased by nearly 20% from where it stood just days ago.
In the capital, schools near Samut Sakhon have been ordered closed until Jan. 4, according to Bangkok Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang. He also asked people who commute between the two provinces to work from home. The city’s large-scale New Year’s Eve events have been canceled, and Aswin asked for both private and public party organizers to consider doing so as well, along with temples hosting customary gatherings to pray in the new year.
Dancing is to be prohibited and lapsed social-distancing measures are to be imposed on entertainment venues such as pubs and clubs, and. People who insist to do so have to propose measure plans to health officials. No orders have been issued regarding private gatherings and events.
Markets are being told to practice zero tolerance toward those without masks.
Mahachai Market was shut down Friday after a 57-year-old Thai seafood vendor tested positive for the virus. Health officials quickly discovered a large outbreak underway among the migrant worker community. Much like Singapore’s massive outbreak earlier this year, living conditions are poor-to-squalid in the Mahachai dormitories, with little-to-no health care available. Singapore essentially jailed its large migrant population in response while the virus coursed through their communities, sickening tens of thousands. It took months to bring under control.
Though Thailand had recorded scant cases of local transmission in over six months, the numbers skyrocketed over the weekend with more than 700 found there. The authorities are also testing migrant workers and vendors who frequent Samut Sakhon at more than 472 of Bangkok’s markets, according to Aswin.
The three people in Saraburi were infected after they drove to Mahachai to buy seafood for their restaurant last week. A woman, the mother, became ill Wednesday followed by the rest, but they continued to run errands locally and at nearby provincial markets. All three went to the Saraburi Hospital yesterday after their illness didn’t go away.
This is a developing story and may be updated without notice.