Ministry confident second wave will end this month

Ministry confident second wave will end this month

Dr Opas Kankawinpong, director-general of the Disease Control Department, is confident about the government's fight against the coronavirus outbreak. (Disease Control Department photo)
Dr Opas Kankawinpong, director-general of the Disease Control Department, is confident about the government's fight against the coronavirus outbreak. (Disease Control Department photo)

The Public Health Ministry is convinced that the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak that has been raging since last month is likely to slow down by the end of January.

Yet it is warning of a new risk inside office buildings.

"We have seen no new cases in seven days in 20 provinces, which is very good and a positive sign," said Dr Opas Kankawinpong, director-general of the Disease Control Department said on Friday. "If we can continue our efforts to limit the outbreak from spreading, we will see an obvious decrease in the number of new daily cases by the end of this month."

"Under the current situation, we can say that we have done well to control the outbreak," he added.

The director-general was speaking during a daily press briefing at the Ministry of Public Health, where he voiced his optimism after it reported 205 new Covid-19 cases, a huge dip on the 305 reported the previous day.

"This is a good result from effective action to control the disease, done by many provinces, including [efforts] to quickly find the infected persons [...] and people's strong awareness about wearing masks and having clean hands," he said.

Despite the disease being active in 57 provinces, cases have been located and contained, according to Dr Opas.

As of now, the provinces with relatively small numbers of cases outpace flashpoint provinces.

There are 19 provinces with one to 10 cases, 10 provinces with 11-50 cases, eight provinces with over 50 cases, 20 provinces with no new cases reported in the last seven days and 20 provinces with zero infections.

In about three weeks, since the recent outbreak started on Dec 15 at the Central Shrimp Market in Samut Sakhon province, the number of Covid-19 infections detected jumped by 5,604.

Among the new cases, are 519 cases in the capital city, 221 in the central provinces, 2,981 in Samut Sakhon province, 1,597 in the eastern region, 146 cases in the western region and 140 cases in other regions. Meanwhile, the fatality rate is quite low with an increase of seven to the total recorded during the first outbreak last year.

Dr Opas said medical teams have provided Covid-19 tests to communities and working places occupied by migrant workers. The tests found infections but the amount is less than expected, he said.

Random testing conducted on 35,712 alien workers countrywide -- except those in Samut Sakhon province -- found 77 positive cases. Meanwhile, the same test was done on 93,145 Thais and the authorities found 449 positive cases.

However, he said a new risk is the transmission of the disease in office buildings after the ministry found many new infections in workplaces in Bangkok.

Regarding field hospitals, the ministry has prepared 872 beds in Samut Sakhon and 414 beds in Chon Buri, Rayong and Chanthaburi, where half were already occupied by Covid-19 patients. All of them came to the field hospitals without showing symptoms. They will be held there for 10 days.

To be fully prepared to handle cases, the ministry needs all 12 public health regions to prepare 1,000 field hospital beds in case of an emergency.

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