Dr Yong Poovorawan, the top virologist with Chululongkorn’s Faculty of Medicine, has expressed concern about the high levels of asymptomatic cases being detected and urged more widespread availability of RT-PCR testing to conclusively identify the disease. His ominous prediction of an impending second wave was supported by a similar warning from the Covid-19 Situation Administration Centre where Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin told the public that more severe lockdown measures could well be on the cards without more cooperation from the public.
Thailand could well be teetering on the brink of the second wave of Covid-19 as new local infections have spread to 38 provinces with more being coded red and a warning from top virologist at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, Dr Yong Poovorawan, that a large number of asymptomatic cases testing positive may mean that the second wave is already underway. The top virus expert called for more widespread and conclusive Covid 19 testing as well as expedited plans to hasten the rollout of a vaccine.
Thailand’s Covid-19 status has begun to deteriorate rapidly with the news that Rayong in eastern Thailand, which up to Thursday last had been Covid-19 free for 200 days, has jumped to become a red zone province after it reported 27 new cases on Saturday following eight on Friday and one on Thursday evening.
The news was confirmed by Governor Chanchana Lamsaeng with eighteen of the infections being diagnosed in state-run hospitals and nine in private medical facilities in the latest tally.
Severe Rayong outbreak linked to illegal gambling den with a 55-year-old woman identified as the super spreader failing to cooperate with officials
The outbreak in Rayong is said to be linked to an illegal gambling den with the main culprit or ‘super spreader’ reported by police to be a 55-year-old woman who Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the top Department of Disease Control official, said has not been truthful while cooperating with authorities fearing that her testimony could lead to the suppression of illegal gambling networks in the province.
On Saturday, Bangkok reported a further eighteen cases while Phetchaburi reported a further seven. In total, the kingdom reported 64 new infections for the day.
Officials are reporting that 90% of the cases are asymptomatic and have only been detected through testing.
Top virologist fears the worst, the beginning of an uncontrollable second wave across Thailand
On Sunday, Dr Yong Poovorawan, one of Thailand’s leading experts on the Covid 19 virus and Head of the Centre of Excellence for Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, warned the government that it needs conclusive RT-PCR testing in all areas with as much volume as possible if it is to have any hope of halting a second wave of coronavirus in the kingdom.
Dr Yong suggested that what we are witnessing may be the early stages of a second wave of the virus. He highlighted the large number of asymptomatic cases meaning people can be spreading the virus while being unaware they are carrying it.
The top doctor urged private hospitals to lower the price charged for testing to assist efforts to isolate people who have the virus in what is a race against time.
He also indicated that the rollout of a vaccine should begin sooner rather than later noting that there were now 6 different alternatives.
Local infections have now spread to 38 provinces
As the spate of local virus infections has now spread to 38 provinces with more red zones, meaning stricter lockdown measures being taken, the Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha, has already given the order for a halt to all public gatherings nationwide.
In the meantime, local authorities in orange zones such as Nonthaburi have tightened the regulations for entertainment centres banning all live music, food after 10 pm and insisting on closure at midnight.
However, further measures may be on the cards.
Over the weekend, the spokesman for the Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, warned of the very real prospect now of a nationwide lockdown if the situation spirals out of control and said that the only way to prevent this was overwhelming cooperation from the public.
Carla Boonkong is a magazine writer who writes extensively about woman's issues in Thailand. One of her key subjects is the story of Thailand's growing influence in the world and the role played by Thai women in the process. She is now a staff writer with Thai Examiner.com in Bangkok. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.