Sharp increase in Thai Covid cases Monday

Sharp increase in Thai Covid cases Monday

A man receives the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine as the resort island of Phuket rushes to vaccinate its population ahead of a July 1 ending of strict quarantine for overseas visitors, to bring back tourism revenue, April 1, 2021. (Reuters file photo)
A man receives the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine as the resort island of Phuket rushes to vaccinate its population ahead of a July 1 ending of strict quarantine for overseas visitors, to bring back tourism revenue, April 1, 2021. (Reuters file photo)

The government on Monday recorded 194 new cases of Covid-19, with most of the increase driven by clusters in a Narathiwat jail and Bangkok bars, as the accumulated total since the start of the pandemic hit 29,321. No new deaths were reported, leaving the toll at 95.

Active case-finding revealed 95 of the new infections, while hospitals reported 87. Twelve cases were recent arrivals from abroad.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said Bangkok had registered 45 cases reported from hospitals, followed by Samut Prakan (9), Chon Buri (7), Suphan Buri (7), Samut Sakhon (4), Nonthaburi (4), Prachuap Khiri Khan (2), Chaiyaphum (2) and Chumphon (2).

One case each was reported in Tak, Samut Songkhram, Sa Kaeo, Narathiwat and Pathum Thani.

The cases in Bangkok included two Japanese and one Canadian, it said.

Narathiwat found the most cases from active testing – 93 inmates – while Bangkok and Pathum Thani each recorded a single case.

The 12 imported cases comprised two from Ethiopia and one each from Yemen, Russia, Brazil, India, the United States, Sweden, Bangladesh, Germany and Malaysia.

The Disease Control Department said on Sunday 40 cases had been detected in pubs and bars in Bangkok.

The CCSA warned on Monday that all places nationwide deemed at risk of spreading the virus could be ordered closed.

Bangkok cluster

The 70 cases in Bangkok were linked to pubs in the capital and nearby provinces. The cluster is thought to have originated at an entertainment place in Pathum Thani province before spreading to Crystal Club in Thong Lor and then to Blabla Bar and Beer House in Ekamai.

“Employees were the conduits as they contracted the disease from customers and then spread it to others. Most patrons also visited more than one place and musicians and employees working at entertainment places tend to work multiple jobs, accelerating the spread,” said Dr Opas Karnkavinpong, director-general of the Disease Control Department.

He identified risky behaviours as not wearing masks, shouting, drinking – which led to poor judgment – and sharing glasses.

Japanese ambassador

On the case of the Japanese ambassador, currently being treated at a private hospital, Dr Opas said his symptoms were not serious and he did not have pneumonia.

“None of the Thai ministers attended a reception at his residence. Nor did they go to entertainment places, including Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow,” he said, responding to reports that a minister might have been infected.

Prison outbreak

The Public Health Ministry also provided details about the new hotspot of almost 100 cases among inmates at a Narathiwat prison. It said that like the cluster at the Immigration Bureau’s detention facility, the prison was a crowded, enclosed space and the risk of it spreading to the public was limited.

The first case there was reported after a health official at the prison developed a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and lost the senses of smell and taste.

Tests were then conducted on 700 prisoners and 100 were found to be infected. While authorities are investigating, a 14-day quarantine rule is being strictly enforced and officials will be vaccinated and tested periodically.

Before the cluster was found, this group of prisoners had participated in activities in Surat Thani. The ministry said the one-day event was attended by 1,000 people, but they did not come into close contact with the prisoners and all at-risk people had been identified and quarantined.

Vaccination schedule

The ministry reported that 244,254 doses of Covid-19, 201,864 of which were first shots, had been administered from Feb 28 to April 3.

He denied the process had been slow, citing only 200,000 doses were available initially.

“When we have a large number of shots — 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be available per month starting in June — we will definitely meet the target," he said.

The government plans to administer 10 million doses a month by then, aiming to inoculate half of the population of 66.2 million by the end of this year.

He urged people to start booking vaccinations starting May 1 through the Mor Prom mobile application.

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