Travel forbidden from 5 gulf provinces as virus sears Thailand’s Cannery Row

Health officials test more than 600 fishers for COVID-19 on Tuesday in Samut Sakhon province. Photo: Samut Sakhon Public Relations Department
Health officials test more than 600 fishers for COVID-19 on Tuesday in Samut Sakhon province. Photo: Samut Sakhon Public Relations Department

Anyone leaving five virus-wracked coastal provinces without government permission faces two years in jail as the coronavirus spreads unchecked through Thailand’s Cannery Row.

Two days after the prime minister said there would be no lockdown measures on the provinces of Samut Sakhon, Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat, he was contradicted by new travel restrictions announced in the Royal Gazette in response to a spiraling outbreak among seafood industry workers.

Of the 1,115 infected workers discovered since Monday, 914 worked at one firm: Pataya Food Industries in Samut Sakhon province, ground zero of the second wave of infections which emerged three weeks ago. 

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Effective today, people who want to leave Samut Sakhon and the other four provinces must get permission from authorities at the nearest government offices. Those who fail to do so face a THB40,000 fine and two years in jail.

Pataya Food Industries, which produces the Nautilus brand of canned fish, insists its food products are safe after it sterilized its factory in Mahachai, a sprawling seafood market where much of Thailand’s seafood industry is based. Mahachai is where the outbreak was first detected on Dec. 18. 

The travel restrictions were put in place under the Emergency Decree, which has been in effect since March

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