Twelve local infections among 34 new cases

Twelve local infections among 34 new cases

Thai and Myanmar patients all linked to Samut Sakhon shrimp vendor

Workers spray disinfectant at the shrimp market in Samut Sakhon on Friday, as authorities try to contain the spread of coronavirus first detected in a shrimp vendor. (Photo from Samut Sakhon Public Relations Office Facebook page)
Workers spray disinfectant at the shrimp market in Samut Sakhon on Friday, as authorities try to contain the spread of coronavirus first detected in a shrimp vendor. (Photo from Samut Sakhon Public Relations Office Facebook page)

Twelve local infections in Samut Sakhon are among 34 new coronavirus cases reported on Saturday, raising the nationwide total to 4,331, with no new deaths.

Eight of the 12 cases — the biggest one-day rise in seven months — have been linked to a 67-year-old shrimp wholesaler who was diagnosed earlier this week. The sources of four more local infections in the province are still being investigated.

Three of the eight cases linked to the shrimp wholesaler were asymptomatic close relatives — her bedridden mother, 93; her sister, 73; and her sister-in law, 57, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

The five others in contact with the woman were three workers from Myanmar, aged 40, 32 and 43, and two Thais — a 24-year-old worker who reported a cough and headache, and a 41-year-old clerk.

The seafood industry in Samut Sakhon employs thousands of migrant workers from Myanmar. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has suggested the infection could have originated in the local migrant community, given that Myanmar has seen a surge in Covid cases since September. As of Friday, the neighbouring country had reported 114,000 infections and 2,400 deaths.

Authorities are now investigating how the remaining four local cases reported on Saturday had contracted the disease. All of them showed symptoms such as a fever, headache, runny nose and loss of the sense of smell. They were a 42-year-old vendor, two company employees aged 23 and 20, and a 49-year-old cashier.

There is no need for a lockdown in the province yet but steps will be taken if cases keep rising, Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the CCSA spokesman, said at a briefing on Saturday.

“If the number of cases won’t come down tomorrow or the day after and become a cluster with unfound origins, we will choose measures from light to strong to handle it,” he said.

Samut Sakhon authorities on Saturday planned a major cleanup at the shrimp market, which was ordered closed for one day. Mask wearing in public places was made compulsory, with a 20,000-baht fine for violations, according to the Public Health Ministry.

Covid-19 cases were also confirmed on Saturday in another 22 quarantined arrivals: one each from Kenya, Bahrain, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, the Netherlands, India and Italy; two each from Germany, the United States, Bangladesh, Namibia and Saudi Arabia, and four from the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, the governor of Chiang Rai declared the situation under control in the northern province, where a cluster of cases had been linked to Thais returning from the Myanmar border town of Tachilek.

Prachon Pratsakul said the province was now safe from a possible spread of the disease.

He said that all at-risk returnees from Myanmar had tested negative and active case finding in communities had found no more new cases. All infected people who had been treated in hospital had also been discharged, he added.

Of the 4,331 people diagnosed with Covid-19 nationwide since the pandemic began, 4,024 (92.9%) have recovered including 19 discharged from hospitals over the past 24 hours, and 247 people remain in hospitals. The death toll remains at 60, said the CCSA.

Global Covid-19 cases rose by 716,606 over the previous 24 hours to 76 million. The worldwide death toll increased by 12,341 to 1.68 million. The US had the most cases at 17.88 million, up 254,680, followed by India with 10 million, up 26,991. Thailand ranked 152nd.

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