Despite the spread of the virus now reaching 58 provinces, the outbreak in many areas, is being brought under control. Officials are particularly pleased with the low incidence of positive tests among migrant workers and other Thais who may be at risk. The one sector that is worrying them is office work environments especially in Bangkok with caution being urged.
Thailand’s Public Health experts believe that the country could break the back of the current outbreak at the end of January as things appear to have gone well in efforts to combat the outbreak from various sources. The ministry is concerned, right now, at a possible infection wave spreading among office workers in Bangkok and is asking employers and staff at all office and work locations to take all necessary steps to avoid the disease including strict health and social distancing procedures as well as working from home where at all possible.
Top officials at the Thai Ministry of Public Health are expressing caution and tentative optimism that the Covid-19 outbreak that erupted at the end of December is showing signs of dying down. Officials are predicting that cases may begin to tail off at the end of January.
Top official, Dr Opas Kankawinpong, the Director-General of the Department of Disease Control at the ministry, expressed the hope on Friday that the end of January may see a petering out of this current outbreak. This would be an exceptional achievement and boost to the kingdom where the population has been preparing for the worst.
Positive message from top disease control official
‘We have seen no new cases in seven days in 20 provinces, which is very good and a positive sign,’ said Dr Opas on Friday. ‘If we can continue our efforts to limit the outbreak from spreading, we will see an obvious decrease in the number of new daily cases by the end of this month.’
While the ministry is warning about the need for care and caution in office environments that have just got back to work, Dr Opas said it looked like efforts by officials including active contact racing and local measures in each province are paying off.
‘Under the current situation, we can say that we have done well to control the outbreak,’ he said.
Friday’s cases were down 33% on Thursday
The news came as the country reported 205 cases from Friday which was 33% down on the day before. There were 245 cases on Sunday with 212 reported from Saturday. Significantly, the numbers hospitalised at 3,803 patient is a sharp drop from a peak reached on the 7th of January when it reached 5,048.
Dr Opas clarified the efforts being pursued by the ministry.
‘This is a good result from effective action to control the disease, done by many provinces, including efforts to quickly find the infected persons and people’s strong awareness about wearing masks and having clean hands,’ he said.
The official appeared to take comfort from the emerging situation where many of the individual outbreaks across the country appear for now to have been contained.
The country had infections, as of Sunday, in 58 provinces with 19 red zones of high infection with cases above 10.
Samut Sakhon outbreak appears to be contained with migrant workers showing lower infection rates
The greatest outbreak of all was the one in Samut Sakhon province on the coast Southwest of Bangkok, among illegal migrant workers within the shrimp market there.
Dr Opas has revealed that officials are now quietly satisfied that this large outbreak is under control. It still has 222 cases with Bangkok leading the country with 1,556 on record.
He also disclosed that tests nationwide among migrant worker hot spots had shown relatively low levels of infection.
The detection of large clusters associated with illegal gambling dens has also been brought under control with a fierce crackdown. This is believed to have contributed to over 1,500 cases in the Eastern provinces.
Seven people have died since the latest outbreak which is a relatively low mortality rate.
Low rates also recorded among Thai workers
Officials are said to be satisfied with random testing among migrant workers carried out nationwide. This showed only 77 positive cases out of 35,712 people tested. Similarly among Thai workers working in these areas, results showed a positive rate of 449 from over 93,145 people tested.
This random testing has now identified the threat to workplaces in Bangkok where ministry officials have been surprised by the positive rate of testing.
Officials are urging caution about office workspaces especially in Bangkok with calls for strict protocols
This is why the government is calling on all those in Bangkok at present to follow strict protocols and to exercise considerable care and attention to health and social distancing measures.
The government is also encouraging these workers to work from home where possible as it eyes an unexpected escape from the outcome envisaged only one week ago when the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration suggested that thousands or even tens of thousands of cases could be announced per day by the mid-February.
The government has also moved during this outbreak to bring forward its vaccine programme with reports that up to a million people, starting with front line health care and the most vulnerable, will begin to be vaccinated at the end of February or early March.