Myanmar & COVID-19

Hundreds More Myanmar Migrant Workers Test Positive for COVID-19 in Thailand

By The Irrawaddy 26 January 2021

Thai officials have confirmed 914 new cases of COVID-19 in Samut Sakhon, including 760 among foreign migrant workers, the majority of them from Myanmar. This is the highest daily number since the province emerged as the epicenter of a second wave of the coronavirus in the country.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Samut Sakhon to 6,555, according to the province’s public relations office. In December, Thai health officials imposed a strict lockdown on the area and began widespread testing.

Apisamai Srirangsun, assistant spokeswoman of the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said public health officials are aiming to test 10,000 people a day in Samut Sakhon until the end of the month.

“With the target [for testing] set at 10,000 people a day, there is a high chance of finding around 800 new cases each day,” she said according to The Bangkok Post. But she went on to assure the public that the government has the ability to rein in the outbreak. The CCSA spokeswoman also said that in addition to the 1,091 beds currently available at the province’s field hospital, over 1,400 will be added.

Thailand will administer its first inoculations with the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca on Feb. 14 in Samut Sakhon province to frontline medical personnel and public health volunteers on a voluntary basis, according to Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Kiatphum Wongrachit.

50,000 doses of the first lot of 150,000 AstraZeneca vaccines, from a plant in Italy, are due to arrive in Thailand in early February and they will be given to up to 7,000 frontline medics, according to health officials.

Meanwhile, Surasak Pholyoungsong, the deputy governor of Samut Sakhon, said he had invited stall owners and operators at the province’s Central Shrimp Market to discuss the best way to manage accommodation for Myanmar migrant workers employed at the market.

Apisamai Srirangsun hinted that educational institutes in some areas of Samut Sakhon may reopen in February if the COVID-19 situation there has improved satisfactorily, while businesses may have to wait.

The Thai government is considering relaxing virus-related curbs on Friday, and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will hold a meeting with officials from the CCSA.

When asked about the easing of restrictions in Thailand, Apisamai said the decision will be made based on information sent by provincial governors and local health authorities, which have been working closely with the CCSA.

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