Samut Sakhon in Lockdown After COVID-19 Outbreak – DDC Confident It’s Manageable

Samut Sakhon in Lockdown
A medical worker performs a nose swab on a migrant worker at a seafood market, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Samut Sakhon province, in Thailand, December 19, 2020. REUTERS/Panumas Sa

Samut Sakhon is now in lockdown with a curfew imposed from 10 pm-5 am taking effect from last night until 3rd January 2021 in the wake of a new surge of more than 500 COVID-19 cases.

The announcement was broadcast on the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand at 9 pm.

People’s movements out of the province are also banned.

Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said the 13 local infections initially reported earlier on Saturday, later surged to 548 following the testing of 1,192 people in the province. Most are migrant workers.

“So, the rate of infection is 43% from tested people and 90% of them are asymptomatic,” said Dr Karnkawinpong.

“Most of the infected cases are migrant workers,” said Dr Karnkawinpong, admitting the likelihood of more infection cases to be found.

He said there might be more infections especially in the community around the seafood market.

Despite that, Dr Karnkawinpong said the authority is confident the situation is manageable because the source of the transmission is located and contained. The effect will be minimal as the infections occurred in young and strong migrant workers.

He also asked vendors and buyers who came to visit the seafood market since 1st December to go into self-quarantine and monitor their own health for 14 days as they might be at risk from the infection.

Samut Sakhon governor Verasak Vichitsangsri, in his capacity as chairman of the provincial communicable disease committee, said the new increase in infections was beyond expectations.

Samut Sakhon Governor
Samut Sakhon Governor

The COVID-19 alert level in the province will be elevated starting from yesterday until 3rd January, with the Talad Klang Kung or Central Shrimp Market and Sri Muang dormitory designated as off-limits areas for disease control.

As for other locations in the province, they will be closed temporarily, including all kinds of gambling venues, sports stadiums, boxing stadiums, schools and educational institutes, tutorial schools, shopping malls, cinemas, and spas, among several other venues.

Eateries that sell alcohol are allowed to sell only takeaways while convenience stores are closed between 10 pm and 5 am.

Earlier in the morning yesterday, 12 local infections in Samut Sakhon were among 34 new coronavirus cases reported, raising the nationwide total to 4,331, with no new deaths.

Eight of the 12 cases, the biggest one-day rise in seven months, were linked to a 67-year-old shrimp wholesaler who tested positive last week.

The sources of four more local infections in the province are still being investigated.

Three of the eight cases linked to the shrimp wholesaler were asymptomatic close relatives, her bedridden mother, 96, her sister, 73,  and her sister-in-law, 57, according to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

The woman owns a stall at Talad Klang Kung in Samut Sakhon and fell ill on 13th December.

The five others in contact with the woman were three workers from Myanmar, aged 40, 32 and 43, and two Thais, a 24-year-old worker who reported symptoms, and a 41-year-old clerk.

The seafood industry in Samut Sakhon employs thousands of migrant workers from Myanmar.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has previously said the infection could have originated in the local migrant community, given that Myanmar has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases since September.

As of Friday, the neighbouring country had reported 114,000 infections and 2,400 deaths.

Authorities are now investigating how the remaining four local cases reported yesterday contracted the disease. They were a 42-year-old vendor, two company employees aged 23 and 20, and a 49-year-old cashier.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases were also confirmed yesterday in another 22 quarantined arrivals.

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