The Ministry of Public Health is set to recommend the closure of night entertainment spots in high-risk areas of Bangkok, in order to deal with the fast-spreading UK variant of COVID-19.
The UK variant is believed to have played a significant role in the spread of the latest cluster of infections detected at entertainment venues across the capital.
Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, chief of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), on Wednesday told a press conference that before the week’s end, there will be an intra-ministerial committee meeting where the next steps for dealing with the latest outbreak, alongside existing COVID-19 preventive measures, will be discussed.
“If there are no proper measures to control the outbreak, the number of new infections could rise to as high as 10,000 cases per day, based on the ministry’s calculations,” he said.
“We need to have certain measures in place to control night entertainment spots in high-risk areas and one of those measures includes shutting them down.
“But the Public Health Ministry cannot issue this order; we need a formal state directive to back this up,” he said.
The country, with a relatively low number of cases, is on full alert after it learned about the UK variant, which can spread 1.7 times faster than the usual strain.
The variant was found in 24 out of the 291 patients tested. These patients are those who were infected after visiting bars in Bangkok, including in Thong Lor (Sukhumvit Soi 55) – home to a number of popular nightspots in the Sukhumvit area.
Despite this surge in COVID-19 cases, the government has not imposed a travel ban during the Songkran period, he said.
“However, everyone should take steps to protect themselves from infection and not transmit the disease to others. Mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing are still vital precautions to take for staying safe from the disease.”