Covid outbreak at Prachuap prison
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Covid outbreak at Prachuap prison

Emergency operations centre formed as cluster of 79 cases confirmed

Public health officials are gearing up to open an emergency operations centre (EOC) to control the Covid-19 situation at provincial Prachuap Khiri Khan prison, where clusters of infections have been confirmed.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, public health permanent secretary, on Saturday said authorities have intensified surveillance efforts following the discovery of 79 Covid-19 cases at the prison.

The first case was detected on March 27, when a 35-year-old female inmate was admitted to Prachuap Khiri Khan Hospital with influenza-like symptoms and tested positive for Covid-19, he said. Meanwhile, a male inmate also tested positive during a prison transfer screening, he said.

The cases prompted provincial health officials to screen every inmate and prison official for Covid-19 using antigen test kits, from March 28–29, he said. Of 1,906 inmates, 70 were confirmed to be infected, while of the 85 prison officials, nine were confirmed, he said. Those infected were isolated for five days while samples were collected for analysis, he said.

Dr Opas said the agencies concerned are preparing to set up the EOC to manage the Covid-19 situation and contain the spread of the virus.

From March 17–23, 630 new Covid-19 cases with five deaths were detected in the country, according to the Department of Disease Control's weekly report.

Of the new cases, 222 suffered from severe pneumonia, with 74 requiring endotracheal intubation, it said, noting the accumulated cases and deaths so far this year stand at 6,238 and 60, respectively.

Dr Yong Poovorawan, director of the Center of Excellence in Clinical Virology at the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, wrote on Facebook this week, saying Covid-19 infections would drop during the summer and start to rise again in June. He said the JN.1 sub-variant of the Omicron Covid-19 variant was the dominant strain and noted that it did not appear to cause more severe symptoms.

Dr Yong said people should test for Covid-19 when showing respiratory symptoms and isolate if they have a heavy cough or fever. After they improve, they can resume their normal activities, but they should wear face masks for at least five days and observe hygiene practices, he said.

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