As a new wave of COVID-19 infections hits, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has ordered the closure of all entertainment venues from Tuesday until 4th January.
The order covers bars with hostesses, horseracing tracks and cockfighting arenas and other entertainment venues including massage parlours. However, pubs and restaurants can stay open as long as they serve only food and drinks, and close by midnight.
BMA spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang on Monday advised entertainment venues to switch to serving only food and observe disease control measures.
Meanwhile, the governor of Samut Sakhon, the epicentre of Thailand’s latest COVID-19 outbreak, has tested positive for the virus, as health authorities in Rayong reported its first coronavirus-related death.
Verasak Vichitsangsiri’s infection was confirmed on Monday, one day after he met Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and other senior health officials who were visiting Samut Sakhon, which has become a hotspot of coronavirus infections.
Mr Charnvirakul and the rest of his entourage tested negative for the virus, but they have been placed under a 14-day quarantine.
It was reported that army spokesman Lt Gen Santipong Thammapiya and Maj Gen Thanathip Sawangsaeng, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), have also been placed under quarantine because they came into contact with the governor.
Director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), Opas Karnkawinpong, said the Samut Sakhon governor was admitted to a hospital for further medical observation, as he has underlying medical conditions which may aggravate his condition.
Dr Karnkawinpong urged the public to support the 55-year-old governor, who was infected while working in high-risk areas. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Mr Charnvirakul on Monday extended their moral support to Mr Verasak and praised him for his hard work and efforts to contain the outbreak in Samut Sakhon.
Meanwhile, Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha confirmed the country’s 61st coronavirus-related death on Monday. He said the 45-year-old patient had underlying health problems and was linked to a cluster of infections in Rayong.
The man, who tested positive on Sunday, suffered respiratory difficulties and eventually stopped breathing while on his way to the hospital, according to Mr Pitutecha.
Thailand’s 60th COVID-19 death was a returnee from the UK who died on 6th November, while the 59th returned from Saudi Arabia. The 58th COVID-19 death was a man from Narathiwat who died in June.
The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Monday warned that local cases could rise by the thousands a day, or even tens of thousands per day by mid-January if provinces with a high number of cases fail to enforce disease control measures.
“If nothing is done, daily new cases could soar to four or five digits this month or by the middle of next month,” Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the CCSA, said. “The best solution is to refrain from socialising, and the curve will flatten.”
The country saw new 144 new cases on Monday, including 115 local infections and 14 among migrant workers. Dr Visanuyothin said the CCSA wanted authorities in all provinces classified as “maximum control zones” and “control zones” to go all out with COVID-19 prevention measures in order to keep the daily cases at three digits.
Maximum control zone refers to provinces that already have many COVID-19 cases. Control zones cover provinces with more than 10 cases.