914 new cases in Samut Sakhon
CCSA hints at easing controls elsewhere
Samut Sakhon reported 914 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, as the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) hinted that it may begin relaxing disease control measures in some provinces.
From the 914 cases reported in the province on Monday, the highest daily number since the province was found to be the epicentre of the second wave, 844 were found through active case-finding. Out of the 844, 760 cases were detected among foreign migrant workers, while the rest were Thais.
The remaining 70 cases -- 35 Thais and 35 migrant workers -- were found in hospitals.
The latest report brought the total number of confirmed cases in Samut Sakhon to 6,555, according to the province's public relations office.
Earlier on Monday, assistant spokesperson for the CCSA, Apisamai Srirangsun, said the public health officials are aiming to test 10,000 people a day in Samut Sakhon until the end of the month.
As active case-finding has been stepped up, it is likely that the province will report high numbers of confirmed cases, she said
"With the target [for testing] set at 10,000 people a day, there is a high chance of finding around 800 new cases each day," she said, before moving on to assure the public that the government has the ability to rein in the outbreak.
When asked if Samut Sakhon's public health infrastructure is ready to cope with the expected increase in confirmed cases, Dr Apisamai said in addition to the 1,091 beds currently available at the province's field hospital, 400 more beds will be added today, while 1,000 more will be added on Friday.
A private company has also allowed its factory to be used as a field hospital, which will be able to accommodate 2,000 patients once it is ready.
When asked about the easing of restrictions, Dr Apisamai said the decision will be made based on the information sent by provincial governors and local health authorities which have been closely working with the CCSA.
"This week is important as we will see some easing [of curbs]. Some provinces may see restrictions lifted, while others may be subjected to tighter curbs, especially in red zone areas," the spokeswoman said.
Separately, the deputy governor of Samut Sakhon, Surasak Pholyoungsong, said he has invited stall owners and operators at the province's Central Shrimp Market to discuss the best way to manage the migrant workers' accommodation in the market.
"The result of the discussions will then be presented to the CCSA," he said.
He also said that it is highly unlikely that the market will be allowed to reopen tomorrow as originally planned, as the number of infections around the market remains high.
"Once the market reopens, strict disease control measures must be enforced," he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday the Public Health Ministry will present its recommendations for reopening to the CCSA, with a focus on the economic impact on business operators.
The CCSA will make the final decision on how the restrictions will be eased, Mr Anutin said.
On the issue of getting students back to class safely on Feb 1, he said that the Public Health Ministry will discuss safeguards that need to be in place at schools before they reopen. The safeguards, he said, will differ from province to province, depending on the severity of the Covid-19 situation in the area.
A government source said that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as the CCSA's chairman, will convene the CCSA to discuss the possibility of relaxing virus-related curbs on Friday.
Among the issues which will be discussed at the meeting is the extension of dine-in hours at restaurants, which are currently allowed to open only until 9pm in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich said Gen Prayut, in his capacity as Defence Minister, has instructed the armed forces to step up border patrols and surveillance to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from neighbouring countries.
A total of 2,043 illegal migrants were arrested between October last year and January, he said.