Chon Buri brewery named as hotspot

Chon Buri brewery named as hotspot

Covid-19 infections have surged in the eastern province of Chon Buri which yesterday reported a new cluster linked to an entertainment venue in Sri Racha district.

Of the 49 new confirmed cases reported by Chon Buri provincial public health office, 35 were logged in Sri Racha district. Of these, 13 are linked to "Rong Beer 90 Sri Racha" and five had high-risk contact with infected visitors.

The provincial health office urged people who visited the brewery in tambon Surasak during Dec 24-31 to take Covid-19 tests or contact the office and self-isolate.

Health authorities also released a diagram of the new cluster which, as of Jan 9, is associated with 32 confirmed cases among brewery employees, customers and those who had close contact with them after.

The brewery operator has announced a temporary closure following the outbreak.

The surge of infections in Chon Buri and other eastern provinces was originally linked to illegal gambling venues in the region, especially in Rayong which yesterday saw 15 new cases.

According to Rayong health authorities, who warned the double-digit increase was a worrying sign, nine of the new cases are associated with a snooker club in Klaeng district.

The four eastern provinces -- Chon Buri, Rayong, Trat, and Chanthaburi and Samut Sakhon -- are now "maximum control zones" and residents are obliged to use the MorChana and Thaichana contact tracing apps at all times.

Permanent secretary for public health Kiattiphum Wongrajit said the ministry expects the outbreak to subside in the next two weeks, even though the number of cases remains in the hundreds at the moment.

He said disease control measures are being tightened in the central region with buffer zones being set up to prevent it spreading north or south.

"We intend to push down the number cases, and by the end of January and through February we expect to see double digits only," said Dr Kiattiphum.

Dr Nitipat Jiarakul, chief of Siriraj Hospital's Division of Respiratory Disease and Tuberculosis Department, said if the hotspot in Sri Racha district is quickly contained, and illegal activities are curbed and people comply with social distancing measures, the Covid-19 situation will improve by the summer.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation has released figures relating to the pandemic since the first case was detected in Thailand on Jan 12 last year.

The infection rate peaked in March and April before it was brought under control and the country remained free of local transmission for more than 100 days, during a period in which the only new cases were those reported among returnees in state quarantine facilities.

According to the ministry, the return of domestic transmission was first reported in December and linked to a cluster of migrant workers in Samut Sakhon before quickly spreading to several other provinces.

It took 363 days for the total number of cases to reach 10,000 on Jan 9 this year.

Of that total, 55.17% have fully recovered, 44.16% are still being treated and 0.67% died.

The youngest Covid-19 patient was a one-month-old baby and the oldest a 97-year-old.

In terms of infection numbers, the ten worst-hit provinces have been Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Samut Prakan, Rayong, Nonthaburi, Chanthaburi, Phuket, Yala and Songkhla.

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