Major update: Samut Sakhon reported 146 fresh coronavirus cases for Sunday, several media agencies quoted deputy provincial governor Surasak Polyangsong as saying.
BANGKOK — A second wave of coronavirus epidemic appears to be a reality on Sunday with the discoveries of new infections linked to the recent cluster of over 500 cases at the country’s largest wholesale seafood market.
New virus cases reported today include two in Bangkok. One of them was identified as a 78-year-old seafood seller who traveled to the Central Shrimp Market in Samut Sakhon province some time between Dec. 1 and Dec. 11. She reportedly tested positive on Dec. 18 after falling ill with the virus. No details on the other patient are available as of publication time.
The government’s coronavirus response center urged anyone who have visited the seafood market in Samut Sakhon from Dec. 1 onwards to report themselves for testing at any hospital, free of charge. Bangkok City Hall spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang posted a similar announcement in an online post.
“If there is any information update, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will inform you immediately,” Pongsakorn wrote. “I’d like to ask everyone to keep wearing facemasks, washing their hands, and maintaining social distancing.”
Health officials also reported that two people in Nakhon Pathom tested positive for the virus; both of them seafood vendors who had a history of travels to the Central Shrimp Market. More cases are discovered in Samut Sakhon (146), Samut Prakan (3), and Ayutthaya (1).
The Central Shrimp Market is part of the sprawling Mahachai Market in Samut Sakhon, about 50 kilometers away from Bangkok. Officials said at least 548 coronavirus cases were connected to the market, most of them migrant workers from Myanmar.
Pandemic response center spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin said health officials are aiming to test at least 10,000 people in Samut Sakhon in the coming days. The center is also set to advise PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to cancel all New Year celebration events in areas deemed to be at risk of coronavirus, media reports said.
The discoveries come after Thailand saw only a small number of infections over the past several months due to strict border and quarantine controls, though some health professionals have repeatedly said that a return of the coronavirus was an expected outcome.
“Judging from the situations, the second wave of the outbreak is inevitable for us, which is something we must do our best to prepare for,” Chulalongkorn Hospital virologist Yong Poovorawan said back in October.
Samut Sakhon Gov. Veerasak Vichitsangsri said late Saturday that strict measures, including a 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew and other travel restrictions, will be taken in the province to combat the outbreak. Shopping malls, gyms, schools, nurseries and sport venues were ordered closed. Migrant workers are also banned from leaving or entering Samut Sakhon.
The restrictions will be in effect until Jan. 3. Thailand currently has fewer than 6,000 cumulative coronavirus cases and 60 deaths linked to the disease.