The government is set to lock down a large construction worker camp in Laksi district of Bangkok, identified as a new cluster of coronavirus infections in which up to 86% of residents have tested positive for Covid-19.
The move came as total Covid-19 infections in Thailand reached 101,447 yesterday, which took the country to 92nd place in the world for the number of Covid-19 cases, outpacing China which is 98th with 90,847 cases.
The Laksi cluster is regarded as a serious Covid-19 outbreak which prompted the Laksi district office and police to step in and order the camp's closure, said Apisamai Srirangson, deputy spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
The camp is owned by Italian-Thai Development Plc. It was unclear last night how the lockdowns will affect the railways projects the workers are involved in, though they will still be able to travel to construction sites.
Authorities launched active case finding among 559 people at the camp yesterday and found that 482 or 86.2% were infected. Since April 1, a total of 27 such infection clusters have been identified in 17 districts of Bangkok, seven of which had been fully investigated while the other clusters are still being investigated, she said.
An investigation by the Disease Control Department (DCD) found the camp is crowded and the residents share several facilities such as bathing areas and eating spaces, which is where the transmissions are thought to have occurred.
The workers commuted from one camp to another both in Bangkok and the provinces. For example, some workers in a Laksi camp had previously travelled to Ayutthaya province. This is another factor contributing to the serious Covid-19 transmission situation, she said.
The CCSA is considering adopting a so-called "bubble and seal" approach to suspend any movements of these workers from their current location unless they obtain permission, she said.
The DCD will now begin sorting into groups infected workers with various Covid-19 symptoms and take them to treatment facilities, she said. During the lockdown, food and other necessities will be provided to camp residents by the DCD, she said.
The CCSA also has imposed a new set of Covid-19 control measures on these construction workers, in the hope of slowing down the outbreak.
All common areas of the camp must be cleaned up and sanitised regularly while camp residents are required to wear a face mask at all times except for when they sleep or eat, she said. The number of people using shared facilities as a group bathing area would also be limited.
Vehicles used to transfer the workers between the camp and construction sites will also have to carry a smaller number of passengers per ride, and avoid unnecessary stops, she said. Vehicles for moving workers are often packed and their living accommodation at the camps makeshift.
Silapasuay Rawisaengsun, Bangkok city clerk, said the Laksi camp cluster is causing serious concern. Four other infection clusters that are also worrying, though they may have a lower rate of daily infections, are the Din Daeng flat cluster in Din Daeng district, a construction worker camp cluster in Watthana district, the Khlong Thom Centre and Wongwian 22 cluster in Pomprap Sattruphai district, and the Huai Khwang market cluster in Din Daeng district.
Twenty-four Covid-19 deaths and 2,302 new cases were reported yesterday, bringing the accumulated total to 589 fatalities and 101,447 cases.
A total of 2,136 people were recorded as having recovered over the 24-hour period, leaving 35,055 under treatment at hospitals. The capital led the number of new infections with 1,218 cases.
CCSA said Bangkok led the fatalities with eight deaths, while Chon Buri, Pathum Thani and Kanchanaburi logged two deaths each. One fatality was recorded in each of 10 provinces -- Chiang Mai, Si Sa Ket, Ratchaburi, Samut Prakan, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Sawan, Phichit, Rayong, Nakhon Nayok and Ayutthaya.