Bangkok City Hall has sealed off a camp for construction workers in the Laksi district after more than 1,000 tested positive for COVID-19, with 36 of 80 samples analysed so far showing the highly contagious variant first found in India.
The infections of 1,107 out of 1,667 workers, or about 66% of the camp, prompted the Bangkok communicable disease control committee to enforce “community isolation” at the facility for 28 days in a bid to contain the outbreak.
The infected workers will receive food supplies and medical treatment while those who are symptomatic will be sent to hospitals.
The camp was built by the Italian-Thai Development company to house labourers working at a nearby construction site.
The meeting also issued disease control guidelines for similar camps in the wake of the outbreak.
Those located on construction sites, like the Laksi camp, will be sealed off but work can continue.
However, if the camp is offsite, it will also be sealed off but work will have to stop.
According to the Department of Medical Sciences under the Public Health Ministry, 36 samples, so far, taken at the workers camp in Laksi were found to be infected with the highly contagious COVID-19 variant found in India.
The strain had spread rapidly in India and been designated as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization.
Department Director-General Supakit Sirilak said that his team have analysed the genetic code of virus samples taken from 80 construction workers and people living in nearby communities.
Of them, 36 – 21 from Thais, 10 from Myanmar workers and 5 from Cambodians were diagnosed with the mutated variant of the virus from India.
The others were infected with the UK strain, Dr Sirilak said, adding that 87% of infections in Thailand have been by the UK variant.
Virus samples from other infection clusters will be collected for analysis by genome sequencing, he said.
Dr Sirilak said that the laboratory of the department can analyse 384 samples of the coronavirus per week by using the entire genome sequencing method.
Doctor Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said health workers and investigators have been deployed to track down anyone who came into contact with the infected.
He noted that the variant found in India had not been shown to be resistant to the COVID-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca.
“There is no information indicating that the symptoms of the variant found in India are more severe than those of the UK strain,” Dr Karnkawinpong said, adding that the AstraZeneca vaccine can prevent the worst effects of both strains.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said work may still need to stop temporarily at the construction site while further testing is carried out.
He said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stressed the need for the contractor to enforce disease control measures at the worker camp.
Meanwhile, district director Sombat Kanokthipwan said vaccines will also be administered to people in nearby communities from Tuesday onwards to contain the spread of the virus.
The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration on Friday reported 32 new COVID-19 fatalities and 3,481 new cases – 2,530 among the general population and 951 in prisons.
It said there were now 35 COVID-19 clusters in 23 districts of Bangkok.
Those requiring maximum controls were construction workers’ camps in Laksi, Don Muang and Klong Toey districts; crowded communities in Klong Toey and Din Daeng district; Bang Kapi market in Bang Kapi district; and gem trade venues in Bang Rak district.