New cases of COVID-19 at the fresh seafood market in Samut Sakhon continue to rise as more migrant workers from Myanmar get tested.
Deputy Provincial Governor Surasak Polyangsong said that 146 more workers from the neighboring country tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total number to 694.
That figure was considerably higher than the 516 infections in Myanmar workers reported by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration hours earlier.
The caseload was expected to rise in the coming days as results of tests applied to workers at the central shrimp market in Tambon Mahahai of Samut Sakhon’s Muang district were obtained, said Kiatiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary of public health.
Dr. Kiatiphum said authorities are testing 10,000 Myanmar workers.
The number will increase to 40,000 in an attempt to contain the outbreak in the province, stated Dr. Kiatiphum. “We expect many more cases [as a result of the tests],” the top ministry official said.
The Ministry of Public Health also explained that the market mainly employs Myanmar workers, with only 10% of the workforce being Thai nationals.
The Central Shrimp Market is one of the largest wholesale markets in the country. The first reported case was that of a Thai woman who owned a market stall.
It was confirmed that she became ill on December 13 and tested positive for the new coronavirus four days later.
According to Dr. Kiatiphum, health officials were confident that the new outbreak had originated in the Myanmar community working in the market. He said the ministry has decided to expand the tests to cover as many Myanmar workers in Samut Sakhon as they can.
The ministry expects the situation to return to normal within four weeks, provided that the transmission rate remains under control, said Dr. Kiatiphum.
The closure of the market and some other areas in Samut Sakhon are also part of the outbreak’s measures. So far, the virus found on the market has spread to at least five neighboring provinces.
Opas Kankawinpong, the director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said that three patients had been found in Samut Prakan.
According to him, two were in Bangkok and Nakhon Pathom, and one in Suphan Buri and Ratchaburi. I have also added: “All could be traced back to the Central Shrimp Market.”
Dr. Kiatiphum also said that the ministry was confident that the outbreak would not spread throughout the country, as Myanmar workers are quite isolated.
“The chance for the virus to spread to Thais is limited because they stay in their community and usually do not travel far from where they live,” he stated.