UPDATE: The number of cases linked to the Samut Sakhon outbreak has risen to 576. Earlier the figure was published as 516 cases.
Thailand’s CCSA has announced more than 500 Covid-19 cases among migrant workers at the centre of its seafood industry, on an enormous 1-day rise in a country that had gone into mild panic after just 1 or 2 daily community cases in recent months.
Initial tests announced a total of 516 confirmed Covid-19 cases. The latest figure has risen to 576.
Samut Sakhon, just south west of Bangkok, has been put under a lockdown with a curfew imposed from 10pm – 5am daily. The curfew went into effect last night and will last until at least January 3 in the wake of the new surge. People who have travelled to Samut Sakhon, or stopped in the province, since December 1, are being advised to isolate themselves and be aware of any possible symptoms.
The borders to the province have also been closed with movements in and out of the province banned for now.
Samut Sakhon is a hub for Thailand’s fishing industry with tributaries running from the Gulf of Thailand. Four infections were reported at a shrimp market last Friday. The first case was a 67 year old woman – a vendor at a local fish market.
The centre for the current outbreak has focussed on Burmese migrant workers in Samut Sakhon’s coastal fishing markets and industry. Fishing workers from Myanmar form the vast majority of the new cases. Myanmar has suffered a far worse outbreak of Covid-19 than Thailand having reached a total of 115,187 detected cases, after being at a total of 919 cases on September 1.
Thailand is among the world’s 10 largest shrimp and fish exporters.
Thailand’s Disease Control Department director-general announced that the 576 new cases were discovered after Covid-19 testing that included 1,192 migrant workers. 90% were asymptomatic. They have expressed concern that Samut Sakhon shares provincial borders with Greater Bangkok.
“The effect will be minimal as the infections occurred in young and strong migrant workers.”
More than 550 new cases were reported, a huge surge to Thailand’s total of 4,800 cases which includes 60 Covid-related deaths in the country of 69 million. Thailand’s Covid-19 case load has been fewer than any country with such a large population, except Vietnam.
The DSD says there is a high likelihood of finding more cases within the migrant fishing community. The province has now been ordered closed until January 3 and put under a 10am to 5pm curfew. The major southern route from Bangkok goes straight through the middle of the province although there are other routes that can be taken to the north of Samut Sakhon.
Samut Sakhon’s Governor Wirasak says the surprising the number of infections was “more than expected”.
SOURCES: Bangkok Post | CNA |Reuters
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