A field hospital has been opened at the now-infamous shrimp market in Samut Sakhon, despite strong objections from local people.
The hospital has 30 beds and is now almost complete, ready to provide treatment for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms. Those more seriously ill will be sent to normal hospitals.
Permanent secretary for public health Kiattiphum Wongrajit and his entourage on Thursday visited the hospital to follow up on the Covid-19 situation in the area, which has become a hotspot of new infections among mostly migrant workers.
Seventy-five patients have so far been treated at the field hospital, which is divided into three main zones: wards, a waiting and screening area, and a treatment area.
Immigration authorities have set up a centre at the field hospital to compile information about migrant workers, each of whom is required to register via the police force's biometric system.
Dr Kiattiphum said the hospital would take blood samples from people who had completed 14 days of quarantine to check whether they had developed antibodies.
If so, they will be regarded as having recovered from the virus and will be taken to other facilities provided by the government.
Dr Kiattiphum urged people to alert the authorities if they see any migrant workers outside their restricted areas.
Even though the field hospital has already started providing treatment, people in three Samut Sakhon sub-districts have strongly opposed it.
More than 100 people from Bang Ya Phraek, Krok Krak and Wat Tuek gathered on Thursday shortly after the field hospital was set up and tried to stop military vehicles entering the site to complete its facilities.
Representatives of the protesters said they were not confident in the hospital's security and feared that people in the neighbourhood, especially small children, might contract the virus.
The protesters proposed that a field hospital be set up at a fishing pier instead.
Sources said there was also a gathering of people opposed to the establishment of another field hospital at Phan Thai Norasing Water Park in Phan Thai Norasing sub-district, also in Samut Sakhon.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnviraul tried to allay people's fears, saying that people who had been tested or treated at the field hospital could not spread the virus.
He insisted the ministry had complied with all safety standards while setting it up.