Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon says he doubts there are any illegal gambling dens in Bangkok, despite warnings by a senior health official that such premises pose a serious COVID-19 threat.
Opas Bhudachareon, head of Chulalongkorn Hospital’s Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases, said recently one COVID-19 patient there was linked to a gambling den in Bangkok. He further urged those who had visited the venue to be tested for COVID-19.
However, Gen Wongsuwon yesterday claimed there were no such illegal activities because the police had clamped down on them.
“You must ask the doctor who provides this information,” he said. “I don’t believe illegal casinos are operating in Bangkok, but if the doctor knows about it, he can inform the authorities.”
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) yesterday reported 28 new cases of COVID-19, including one person who had visited a gambling den in Pattaya.
However, BMA spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang denied reports that some of those infected people had contracted the virus at casinos in Bangkok, saying the Disease Control Department had told him they had been infected at casinos in Pattaya.
People who travel from at-risk areas should self-isolate at home, complete the BKK COVID-19 questionnaire, wear a face mask, wash their hands frequently and keep their distance from others.
Bangkok reported 28 new cases yesterday, bringing the total to 229 from 20th December until yesterday.
Meanwhile, Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution, said he would petition Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, asking him to tackle the problem of illegal gambling and the arrival of illegal foreign workers from neighbouring countries.
Mr Janya said the resurgence of COVID-19 infections had been caused by people illegally importing foreign workers from neighbouring countries and those involved in illegal gambling.
Gen Chan-o-cha, who is in charge of the Royal Thai Police Office, must take responsibility for letting the problem occur.
“Owners of gambling dens, agents who import illegal migrants as well as police who receive bribes from these operations must be punished because they have caused huge economic damage to the country,” he said.
“Many people are now in financial difficulty because of them.”
If Gen Chan-o-cha could not solve the problem and prosecute the offenders, he should resign, Mr Janya added.
He also claimed several small illegal gambling dens were still operating in Rayong, after the closure of the one suspected to be the source of an infection cluster in the province.
The premier insisted he was taking the problem of illegal gambling dens across the country seriously but hard evidence was required for prosecutions to be pursued.