Covid returns to Chiang Mai

Covid returns to Chiang Mai

6 new cases in 2 days after 83 without one

Officials close Warmupcafe in Chiang Mai province on Tuesday after Covid-19 infection at the pub. (Photo: Panumet Tanraksa)
Officials close Warmupcafe in Chiang Mai province on Tuesday after Covid-19 infection at the pub. (Photo: Panumet Tanraksa)

Chiang Mai is assessing its Covid-19 situation, after it was confirmed that the province had recorded six new infections nearly three months after its previous cases.

Four new cases recorded on Monday were the first in the province for 83 days and were linked to night entertainment venues in Bangkok and Nonthaburi.

The latest two cases were confirmed on Tuesday, according to Chiang Mai's committee on communicable disease control, bringing the total number of infections in the province to 75.

A Covid-19 mobile testing unit has since been sent to check about 90 night entertainment workers, as part of the province's efforts to maintain confidence among visitors in Chiang Mai's ability to contain the virus.

Panlop Saechiew, president of Chiang Mai's tourism industry council, said its officers were working with tourism business operators to assess the Covid-19 situation.

He admitted that the discovery of the new Covid-19 cases after almost three months without a single case would inevitably harm the province's tourism sector.

However, he stressed that none of the infected people had visited any pubs or bars in Chiang Mai since they contracted the virus, nor attended any public gatherings.

Some had just gone to a shopping mall, where Covid-19 control standards are normally high, and an open-air market, he said. This suggested the risk of them spreading the virus in Chiang Mai was quite low.

A Chinese national has also been confirmed to be among the infected. It is believed he has since had close contact with family members and associates, according to a timeline he gave public health authorities.

Mr Panlop said he was very optimistic that the new Covid-19 outbreak in the province would be brought under control quickly.

So far, he said, the new wave of Covid-19 infections had not had any significant impact on the province's tourism plans ahead of the Songkran festivities, during which a large number of visitors are expected to visit the northern province.

The number of air passengers per day remains at about 7,000 and is expected to rise during the holiday next week, he said.

Meanwhile, a makeshift field hospital has been arranged at Narathiwat Prison, where 127 out of 631 inmates tested have been confirmed to have Covid-19, said Pat Phongchai, chief of the provincial prison.

This was achieved seamlessly, thanks to help from Dr Naretrit Khatthasima, chief public health officer in Samut Sakhon, a hotspot for Covid infections.

The 127 infections included one confirmed only on Tuesday, he said, adding that this was still a low percentage of the prison's 2,334 inmates.

Ninety-two out of the 127 infected inmates are asymptomatic and are being isolated in a separate area of the prison where their condition will be closely monitored for at least the next 10 days, he said.

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