After a meeting of the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Friday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced that all construction worker’s camps in Bangkok and neighboring provinces and other coronavirus clusters in four southern provinces were ordered to close for a month starting Monday.
The move is intended to address the primary sources of COVID-19 clusters in recent weeks to control the virus spread in Thailand.
Bangkok’s coronavirus situation has become concerning, and authorities have considered a lockdown amid increasing COVID-19 cases and intensive-care beds shortages. However, the government has rejected a new lockdown due to its severe economic impact on the already-hit capital.
Besides, authorities fear workers would rush back to their home provinces, carrying COVID-19 with them, if Bangkok is closed.
The prime minister also said that all areas where COVID-19 clusters had been reported in Pattani, Yala, Songkhla, and Narathiwat provinces would be closed for a month to contain the spread of the virus in the regions hardest hit by the third coronavirus wave.
According to Gen Prayut, health officials have found 37 infection clusters in worker’s camps, and Bangkok is home to 575 sites with 81,000 construction workers in total. The Labor Minister would handle compensation and meals for all Thai and migrant workers in the meantime, he said.
The prime minister also added that more details would be released over the weekend.
“People will have less convenience during the period,” he stated. However, the government will not impose a curfew and will evaluate the stricter measures after a month to see if they have helped to improve the situation.
Furthermore, Gen Prayut asked people to limit travel to reduce the risk of spreading the most contagious Delta variant across the country.
“We must consider measures carefully so as not to worsen the health situation or the economy, while also speeding up the pace of vaccinations,” he said. Meanwhile, health authorities discuss strict disease control measures in specific outbreak areas.
CCSA spokesperson Dr. Apisamai Srirangson mentioned an outbreak in the Simummuang market in Tambon Khu Khot of Lum Luk Ka district in Pathum Thani.
The 350 rai wholesale market, which serves an immense trading network of small and large farms in the provinces, attracts around 20,000 customers and 20,000 vendors, including migrant workers, every day. Its closure could affect a considerable number of businesses in its vicinity, Dr. Apisamai added.
However, its operations could continue with effective disease control measures.