Thailand reports 427 new Covid-19 cases

Covid-19 cases continued to rise in Thailand on Tuesday, up by 427 from the previous day, with a majority of them being connected to a seafood market in Samut Sakhon province near the capital Bangkok.

Of the new cases, 397 were reported in Myanmar migrant workers in Samut Sakhon, where the latest Covid-19 outbreak was first detected, the Xinhua news agency reported.

There were also 16 other local infections in connection with the seafood market in Samut Sakhon, and 14 imported cases, the Center for the Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin said.

The recent case spikes came after a 67-year-old Thai woman vendor at the seafood market was confirmed being infected last week.

The latest outbreak has brought Thailand’s total tally of confirmed cases to 5,716 with 60 deaths, Taweesin said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Tuesday he will meet with the CCSA and announce “additional regulations that may be appropriate for the evolving situation.”

While giving a televised speech, Prayut called for more caution with more relaxed rules for letting people from other countries into Thailand and keeping up much stricter guard inside the country.

He attributed the flare-up of infections in Samut Sakhon to illegal immigrants, saying networks bringing illegal immigrants into Thailand must be “prosecuted without any leniency.”

Samut Sakhon is home to a large number of migrant workers, mostly coming from Myanmar and employed in the fishing industry. The province has been put under lockdown, with a curfew enforced between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. as well as other social distancing and travel restrictions from Saturday until January 3.

Taweesin urged an estimated 1,000 Thai people, with most of whom being seafood vendors that had visited the Samut Sakhon market or had made contact with vendors at the market, to urgently have themselves tested for Covid-19.

They are reported as residents of 22 provinces, including Bangkok, Samut Songkhram and Suphan Buri, according to Taweesin.

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Tuesday that it remains to be seen whether or not to impose nationwide lockdown measures apart from Samut Sakhon during the New Year season.

The existing emergency decree, which has been extended several times on a monthly basis since March, might be replaced with the existing law governing disease control measures, Anutin said.