The Public Health Ministry on Thursday insisted that the country has yet to enter Stage 3 of the coronavirus outbreak, despite the discovery of a new cluster of infections which brought the total number of cases in Thailand to 70.
The permanent secretary for public health, Sukhum Kanchanaphimai, made the remark after 11 people tested positive following a night out with visitors from Hong Kong late last month.
Dr Sukhum said the 11 new cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) are all Thai nationals and include five males aged 25-38. They were a part of a group of 15 who went out together late last month on two separate days.
Some of the group met with visitors from Hong Kong on Feb 21 and developed a fever, headache and cough on Feb 25, he said.
Despite feeling unwell, they went out with friends on Feb 27 and 29, when they drank from the same glasses and also shared cigarettes. They sought treatment at hospital on March 4, Dr Sukhum said.
The four who were not infected neither drank nor smoked, he added.
Of the 70 Covid-19 cases so far found in Thailand, 34 people have been discharged while 24 are still in hospital -- with one in serious condition at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute.
Dr Sukhum also dismissed reports that the group may be "super spreaders", saying that the patients and some 70 members of their families have been thoroughly tested and are now safe and under observation.
He also said that the Covid-19 epidemic has yet to reach Stage 3 -- defined as rapidly spreading with considerable patient numbers at the community level.
"We are trying to prevent Thailand from entering the third phase [of the outbreak]," he said.
In a related development, Central Pattana (CPN), a SET-listed property and retail developer under Central Group, on Thursday issued a statement dismissing social media reports claiming that the 11 new confirmed Covid-19 cases had visited the Groove Zone in CentralWorld.
The statement added that 33 Central shopping malls nationwide have stepped up their coronavirus control measures, such as regularly spraying disinfectants and checking temperatures of all staff members.
Chulalongkorn University posted a related message, denying that one of the Covid-19 cases was a student there.