Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul during his inspection trip in Samut Sakhon to boost confidence in seafood consumption and inspect a field hospital there before getting back and getting tested for the virus. Credit: Public Health Ministry

Four or five digits of new local infections could be in reach in the next two weeks if nothing is done in maximum control and controlled zones: CCSA

The latest scenarios of local transmissions of Covid-19 have been projected by the disease control team, suggesting strict enforcement of disease control measures and public cooperation are the only way for the country to avoid the virus transmission overload, whereas top public health officials, the Public Health Minister included, are under surveillance for a possible contraction of Covid-19 following their close contacts with Covid-19 infected Samut Sakhon Governor during an inspection trip in the province yesterday

Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, Spokesperson of the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has revealed the latest three prime scenarios of local infections of Covid-19 in the country in the next two weeks at the press briefing today, saying the country would run into four or five digits of new local infections of Covid-19 if maximum control and controlled zones do nothing as supposed to.

The curve could be bent down to 45 degrees with the number of new infections fall to three digits if enforcement of disease control measures is met with public cooperation

But the best scenario would be full cooperation and enforcement of disease control measures in the zones, with social distancing complied, which Dr. Taweesin said would help flatten the curve with a low and steady rise of new local infections.

The scenarios projected by the DDC.
Credit: CCSA

The CCSA has come up with a classification of Covid-19 infected and risk areas as a new instruction for provinces to take care of the infections and risks in their responsible areas.

The areas are classified into four main zones; be they an infected area with a maximum control if it sees a number of local infection cases and several infected locations, a controlled area if it sees more than 10 cases with a likely increase of cases, a high surveillance area if it sees less than 10 cases and the situation is likely to be put under control, and an area under surveillance, if there are no cases, reported yet.

The maximum control and controlled areas are required to impose closures and strict restrictions against certain businesses, activities, and premises deemed to be epicentres of the fresh outbreaks in the provinces or pose high risks of Covid-19 transmissions. People’s gatherings as well as interprovincial traffic and movements would also be restricted with tight screening or banning.

But all these would depend on judgements made by responsible governors, who are chairs of provincial disease control committees and authorised by the CCSA to be in charge of the situation in their areas.

So far, two provinces are declared the maximum control zones; Samut Sakhon, the epicentre of the new round of the outbreak, and Rayong, where a new cluster was found in a gambling den a few days ago and the infection quickly is spreading out. Several more are declared controlled zones, with the number of cases rising including Bangkok (94 as of today).

The zoning as of Dec 27 evening.
Credit: DDC

Dr.Taweesin said the CCSA is monitoring the situation and urged the provinces under these two categories to do their best before ”the strong medicine” would be considered and applied.

The first round saw the state of emergency declared countrywide as well as a curfew during the night imposed. The government this time has been trying to avoid imposing the blanket lockdown of such for fears that it would worsen the plummeting economy.

That’s the reason why people are still largely allowed to travel and gather so that they can continue their daily businesses and activities, one of the critical condition which is now being questioned by some epidemiologists that it is not in line with the disease control principle as people which are the virus vectors are still mobile.

Dr.Taweesin himself had also cited this in the previous press briefings as the main reason why the virus transmission rate has quickly gone up this round.

So far, the virus has spread to 43 provinces, rising from 38 yesterday, and new local infection cases have surpassed a hundred today, standing at 115, while new infections among migrant workers in the first epicentre of the new round of the outbreak in Samut Sakhon has dropped to 14 today (1,367 so far, out of 11,847 active finding cases since the first infection case reported on Dec 17)

The total number of new local infection cases spreading out of Samut Sakhon plus a few clusters of unestablished origins is 454 today, and the country’s accumulative cases stand at 6,285.

Credit: Public Health Ministry

Public Health executives under risk

Also today, Samut Sakhon Governor himself was confirmed as having contracted Covid-19, prompting several top public health executives to become Covid-19 infection risks as they had been accompanied by him during an inspection trip to Samut Sakhon yesterday.

Among those is Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who has been tested negative to the virus today, but has to get another test in the next three days following the disease control procedures, according to the Department of Disease Control.

He is now under self-quarantine for 14 days, as well as other top public health executives at the Public Health Ministry, whose initial test results are also negative.

The CCSA’s spokesperson conceded yesterday; the situation in the latest round of Covid-19 infections now is more severe than that in the first round, citing the number of local infections, which has risen to over a thousand within a week or so and continued so today.

A field hospital is being set up in the central ground in Samut Sakhon.
Credit: Public Health Ministry

The background

The country faced sporadic infections of Covid-19 with some few cases and clusters reported after the first round of infections which exploded in mid-March, but it started to see the new surge of Covid-19 infections in late November when some young Thai revellers crossed the border to visit and work in some entertainment venues in Myanmar’s border town of Tachilek, next to Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district in the North and crossed back with the virus.

The virus infections from this group spread as far as Bangkok and two local transmissions were reported out of these before the situation was brought under control.

However, the new cases spiked with the infections in the Central Shrimp Market in Samut Sakhon in the mid-month (Dec 17), starting from one female wholesaler before several cases were reported each day among migrant workers who were subject to active case finding and testing. Over 15,000 cases have been tested so far with reports of new cases continues.

At the same time, several provinces with local transmissions have also been reported, with cases surpassing the peak in the first round (188) since yesterday (234).

Thailand’s sharp rise comes as the world’s cases have surpassed 80 million, and 1.75 million deaths.

Credit: WHO Thailand