Update: The government on Wednesday afternoon extended the Emergency Decree to Feb. 28, citing the growing threats of the coronavirus.
BANGKOK — A 63-year-old man died from the coronavirus in Thailand while 365 more infections were reported across the country as of Wednesday.
The victim was a driver for migrant workers in Samut Sakhon who was hospitalized on Dec. 27 and died on Tuesday, according to the government pandemic center Wednesday. His death brings the total virus fatalities in Thailand to 66 people, and the total number of infected to 9,331.
A spokesman for the coronavirus response center also expressed concern over the surge of new cases in triple digits. He said Thailand’s public health system will be seriously tested if daily infections exceed 1,000.
“We don’t want to see an increase in numbers, let’s keep it at two or three digits. We still have resources to handle that,” spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin told reporters.
“In LA in the U.S. now, they are at the level of asking people to not bring in patients to the hospital,” Taweesin said. “There people are left to die at home.”
He added, “We see the U.S. as a developed country, but they have a huge number of cases in the hundreds of thousands. So we must be sympathetic. Let’s pray for Thais in the U.S. and the Americans. Let’s hope we don’t see the same steep graphs here.”
The latest patient to die of coronavirus reportedly had a preexisting condition of high blood pressure, but no other known chronic disease.
Of the 365 new cases reported today, 250 were local transmissions, 99 from active case-finding among migrant workers, and 16 in state quarantine. Chonburi alone found 48 infections, 27 in Chanthaburi, 34 in Samut Prakan, 20 in Samut Sakhon, and 25 in Bangkok.
The capital has been declared a “Red Zone” along with 27 other provinces. Restaurants can only offer dine-in services from 6am to 9pm, while schools, theme parks, bars, boxing stadiums, massage venues, among others are ordered to close down.
In Nonthaburi, Bang Yai Market and the neighboring condominium are under lockdown after 22 people were found infected. The 652 residents of the seven-storey building have been barred from leaving their rooms since Dec. 28.
The government earlier this week also said the first shipment of vaccines produced by a Chinese manufacturer will arrive in February at the earliest, though priority will be given to frontline health workers.
Much of the public will have to wait until May, when doses of British-developed vaccines are scheduled to be available for distribution. The Thai Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve either vaccine type for domestic use.
Although PM Prayut Chan-o-cha maintained that up to half of Thai population will be eligible for free vaccination, a doctor who sits on the government’s COVID-19 advisory board was less than committed.
“I understand that the government will probably give away [vaccines] for free, because there’s policy to assist and protect the Thai population without charging any fee,” Narin Hiransuthikul said in an interview with Nation 22 TV channel.
When the host pressed whether the doses would indeed be free of charge, Narin replied, “I think they will have to discuss it first. But I believe it should be free. But we will have to discuss with the Ministry of Public Health first.”