10,000 to be tested after Samut Sakhon outbreak spreads to Bangkok

10,000 to be tested after Samut Sakhon outbreak spreads to Bangkok

Migrant workers from Myanmar stand behind razor wire blocking the entrance to the Central Shrimp Market linked to an outbreak of Covid-19, in Muang district of Samut Sakhon on Sunday. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
Migrant workers from Myanmar stand behind razor wire blocking the entrance to the Central Shrimp Market linked to an outbreak of Covid-19, in Muang district of Samut Sakhon on Sunday. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

Thailand confirmed 576 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, including 516 migrant worker cases linked to the outbreak in Samut Sakhon announced the day before, the government said, before additional cases were found in Nakhon Pathom.

The new cases include 19 locally transmitted cases in Bangkok and in the neighbouring province of Samut Sakhon, now locked down, where the 516 inflections were also found.

All of them were linked to a shrimp market in Samut Sakhon, according to a statement from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA). 

There were also 41 imported cases. 

Tests conducted in Samut Sakhon since Thursday have found 516 people infected with the novel coronavirus, most of them Myanmar migrant workers. Test results on another 1,453 people are due shortly.

The first case in Samut Sakhon, a vendor at the Central Shrimp Market, was found on Dec 13. Since then, the virus has spread beyond the province, including to Bangkok.

CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said one case in the capital was a 78-year-old woman who lives in the Prachachuen area of Bang Sue district. She drove to the market to buy shrimp to sell at her stall every day from Dec 1-11. On Dec 12 she fell ill, and tested positive on Friday. 

Additional Covid-19 cases – not included in Sunday's update – have been found in Nakhon Pathom, where the provincial public health office said two migrant workers had been infected with the virus. Both cases were related to neighbouring Samut Sakhon, it said.

By Wednesday the authorities aim to conduct 10,300 tests in Samut Sakhon, Nakhon Pathom and the adjacent province of Samut Songkhram, Dr Taweesilp told a news conference.

"Active case findings will continue in several provinces, actually across the country," he said.

Most of the migrant workers in Samut Sakhon are from Myanmar, which has suffered a far worse outbreak than Thailand, where health authorities credit early action with limiting the spread of the virus.

Other Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore and Malaysia, have also reported thousands of cases among migrant workers.

Thailand, the first country outside China to report coronavirus infections, has largely kept the outbreak under control with 4,907 cases and 60 deaths.

The surge in cases comes just as the government seeks to revive a tourist industry devastated by the pandemic. On Thursday, it eased restrictions to allow more foreign tourists to return. 

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