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Rise of Covid-19 cases is not a “second wave,” PM says

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PHOTO: Nation Thailand

The rise of Covid-19 cases in Northern Thailand is not a second wave of infections, according to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. With an outbreak in the Myanmar border town Tachileik, many Thais are crossing back to Chiang Rai, some legally and some illegally. With a number of returnees testing positive for Covid-19, Chiang Rai officials are preparing a second hospital to treat coronavirus patients.

“It is not a second wave of infections or super-spreaders. It is individual infections. We have asked the neighbouring country to screen and prevent them from entering via natural passages along the border.”

While the prime minister says it’s not a second wave, the number of Covid-19 infections keeps going up with some cases detected in quarantine and some outside of quarantine. As of yesterday, a total of 32 people tested positive for the virus after returning from Myanmar illegally, dodging the mandatory 14 day quarantine, according to the director general of the Department of Disease Control, Opas Karnkawinpong. He says there has already been 2 confirmed local transmissions from those who came in contact with the returnees.

The prime minister says the people who crossed the border illegally will face legal action. Prayut has ordered authorities to block natural borders with barricades and tighten border patrol to prevent people from illegally entering the country, potentially bringing the disease with them. Locals have also been told to be on the lookout.

The Thai/Burmese border is 2,400 kilometres long and has hundreds of natural land crossings that have existed for hundreds of years for local village trade.

“Those who sneak back will face legal punishment because they are irresponsible towards others and society as a whole… I told security agencies to use aerial photography or drones to survey any new natural crossings that might be used by illegal border crossers so additional barricades and patrols can be deployed there.”

With security around the border tightening, Thais are going through the official checkpoints and many cases are being detected in quarantine. Opas says they have the situation “under control.”

“The situations in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and other provinces where infections were found have been brought under control. So far, no additional cases from Tachileik have been found. Don’t worry. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are safe for travel.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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