Health Ministry Concerned Chinese New Year Could Lead To COVID-19 Spread

Chinese New Year Thailand

The Public Health Ministry has expressed concerns about the possible risk of COVID-19 transmission when families reunite to celebrate the Chinese New Year on Friday 12th February.

On Saturday, Chawetsan Namwat, director of the emergency disease and health hazards control division under the Department of Disease Control, emphasised the importance of strict social distancing during family gatherings.

He advised families to celebrate safely by using video calls to reduce physical contact, especially with the elderly who are among at-risk groups.

“People are advised to wear face masks when talking, or use chat applications with video call features to reduce physical contact,” he said.

Dr Namwat also offered assurances about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines to be rolled out this year, but noted the arrival of vaccines did not mean the pandemic would end.

The public would still have to comply with disease control measures until herd immunity is acquired, he said. He said active case-finding would continue even though the number of COVID-19 cases has begun to drop.

The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Saturday reported a total of 490 new COVID-19 cases – 479 local infections and 11 imported. Of the local infections, 412 were detected from active case-finding in communities and 67 others were confirmed by hospitals.

CCSA assistant spokeswoman Panprapa Yongtrakul said authorities were stepping up surveillance in the deep South after 3,391 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Malaysia on Saturday.

Ninety-one cases were found in Kedah, 92 in Perak and 58 in Kelantan.

Dr Yongtrakul said the situation in Tak’s Mae Sot district was also worrying after 11 people from seven families tested positive. They were linked to a 75-year-old infected man.

Tak provincial authorities declared Mae Sot district a maximum control zone following the spike, banning large gatherings of people and requiring those arriving from Mae Sot to quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) said no infections were found in Nong Khaem and Chom Thong districts during the proactive COVID-19 screening campaign in western Bangkok.

BMA spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang said 54 infections were found in four districts in the western Bangkok where active case-finding targeting factory workers was underway.