Health authorities announced yesterday that confirmed COVID-19 cases in Rayong surged by 49 in one day, bringing the total number of cases linked to a gambling den in the eastern province to 85.
Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha said the sharp increase justified the maximum disease control measures rolled out in Rayong. The situation warranted fast and active contact tracing.
He also asked at-risk individuals to be tested at a temporary testing site set up at Noen Urai Market in Muang district.
As Rayong governor Channa Ieamsang insisted that all of the 85 confirmed COVID-19 cases were linked to an illegal gambling den, the province’s police chief stressed there aren’t any permanent casinos in the province.
Mr Ieamsang said that as the number of cases linked to the gambling den is rising, a field hospital will be set up, adding a timeline showing movements of the first 10 confirmed cases will be released.
That said, he stressed Rayong won’t be locked down yet, as the cases in the provinces are still limited to Muang district. Tourist destinations along Rayong’s coastline are still open as usual, he said.
More than 300 people were seen queueing at a defunct market next to Suang Si Muang Park in Rayong’s Muang district to be screened for COVID-19, sources said yesterday.
On Saturday, Rayong’s health office urged everyone who visited gambling dens near Rayong’s main bus terminal, behind Nam Chai shop in Chon Buri’s Bang Lamung district, as well as other similar venues in Chon Buri to come forward for testing.
Meanwhile, Rayong police commissioner, Pol Maj Gen Paphatdet Ketphan, dismissed a report which claimed at least 36 people contracted COVID-19 from a casino in the province.
He said that only seven people contracted the virus at the venue, which was more of an underground operation rather than an openly-operating casino.
Pol Maj Gen Yingyos Thepchamnong, a spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, said national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk had ordered a probe to find out if there really are casinos in Rayong.
In another development, Chakkraphon Tangsutthitham, a Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Mai in his capacity as a deputy chairman of the House committee studying the impact of online casinos on Thailand, said a 26-year-old man from Rayong who met the committee on 21st December tested positive for COVID-19 on 24th December.
As a result, all 30 people attending last Monday’s meeting will now have to undergo 14-day quarantine, he said.