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UPDATE: Latest news from the Samut Sakhon Covid-19 outbreak

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PHOTO: Thairath

More than 800 Covid-19 cases linked to a seafood market in Samut Sakhon have been reported, and numbers are expected to increase as health officials roll out mass testing on over 10,000 people.

2 more Covid-19 cases were reported in Bangkok today from people who both recently went to the Central Shrimp Market in Samut Sakhon, adding to the city’s 2 other previously confirmed local cases. The market in tambon Mahachai of the Muang district is considered a Covid-19 hotspot where hundreds tested positive for the virus. Other cases have been reported in the neighbouring provinces Suphan Buri, Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi and Samut Prakon.

With a significant number of Burmese migrants at the Samut Sakhon seafood market testing positive for Covid-19, many of the newly-imposed health measures are focused on migrant workers.

All employers in Thailand are being warned by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha not to hire illegal migrant workers. If they do, they could face closure. The prime minister also urged members of the public to alert officials if they encounter illegal migrant workers. Employers across Thailand are asked to screen all migrant workers by checking temperatures and watching out for symptoms.

The Labour Ministry has also issued orders prohibiting migrant workers from leaving areas considered at “high risk” of coronavirus infections. Migrants who travel outside the areas could be charged for violating the Communicable Disease Act and Emergency Decree.

Newly-imposed coronavirus prevention measures province by province: 

Bangkok

With the Covid-19 outbreak in the bordering province Samut Sakhon, Bangkok officials have announced 10 measures to control the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Asawin Kwanmuang also advises the public to continue wearing a mask and to use the Thai Chana application to track their location.

  1. New Years gatherings are cancelled. If an event has already been planned, organisers must get permission and submit a disease control plan to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s health department.
  2. Entertainment venues, bars, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls are ordered to “strictly” screen customers and abide by coronavirus prevention measures like wearing a mask and social distancing.
  3. Parks are still open, but gatherings are not allowed.
  4. Schools bordering Samut Sakhon are closed until January 4. Classes will be held online.
  5. Government and city officials who commute from Samut Sakhon will work from home.
  6. Temples and other religious venues in the city are asked not to hold gatherings until the situation has resolved.
  7. Screening checkpoints are set up on a few roads in Bangkok to monitor for migrant workers entering the city.
  8. Each of the 472 fresh markets in Bangkok will be checked for Covid-19. Health officials will focus on delivery personnel and those handling the seafood from Samut Sakhon.
  9. Migrant workers at construction sites will be screened for the virus.
  10. Schools will help identify students’ parents who are migrant workers. The migrant parents will then be tested for the coronavirus.

Surat Thani

All travellers arriving to Koh Samui by ferry will be subject to strict Covid-19 screening process, governor Wichawut Jinto says. Migrant workers are banned from moving in or out of the province. Wichawut says the employers have been told to screen the migrant workers for the coronavirus.

“Since a vaccine against Covid-19 is not yet available, the best method of protection is for all to wear face masks. For now, nothing is better than self-protection.”

Chiang Mai

A 3-day lockdown from today until Wednesday has been issued in 3 tambons in Chiang Mai’s Mae Ai district, which includes part of the Doi Inthanon National Park. The provincial disease control committee issued the order after a Covid-19 patient in Ayutthaya reported that they recently worked in the Mae Ai district, according to governor Charoenrit Sanguansat.

Under the lockdown measures, schools in the 3 tambons are closed for the next 3 days and people are not allowed to leave the area. If travel is essential, a health certificate must be obtained by a local hospital. Checkpoints will be set up to screen travellers.

People in the area who recently travelled from Samut Sakhon must report to health officials.

Phuket

An emergency meeting was held by governor Narong Woonciew yesterday ordering officials to step up Covid-19 protection measures.

“There needs to be more intense surveillance concentration measures of scanning at all three ways onto the island – by air, land and at the ports – with proactive scanning of migrant workers in the area.”

Vice governor Vikrom Jakthee is advising business owners who employ migrant workers who recently travelled from Myanmar to notify the Phuket Provincial Health Officer’s Disease Control Division. Seafood operators or other people who recently travelled to Samut Sakhon will be screened for Covid-19, he says.

Pattaya

Pattaya Police step up Covid-19 precautionary checks at entertainment venues in the Pattaya area. There have been no sign of connected cases in the Pattaya or Chonburi area at this time.

Outside of Thailand… 

The Cambodian government is asking local authorities to strengthen safety measures along the Thai-Cambodia border. Samut Sakhon is located about 300 kilometres away from Cambodia’s border.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Pattaya News | Nation Thailand| Phuket News

 

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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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