Thailand Omits Reporting New Virus Cases Among Migrant Workers

Thailand reported 46 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, down 89% from Tuesday’s tally, as it omitted new infections among migrant workers who comprised the majority of cases in an outbreak reported earlier this week.

“We’re not going to report the number of cases found during proactive search operations among the migrant workers,” Taweesilp Witsanuyotin, Covid-19 center spokesman, said on Wednesday, while not disclosing a reason for the omission. “It stands at zero for now, as we have many reasons we must discuss further.”

Virus-free until as recently as September, about a fifth of Thailand’s total cases came in the past week, with a record 548 reported on Sunday, 382 on Monday and 427 on Tuesday after a cluster of infections was discovered last weekend in the coastal province of Samut Sakhon. That took Thailand’s reported infections since January to 5,762, Taweesilp said.

About 90% of the infections reported over the weekend were found among migrant workers from Myanmar, the Health Ministry said earlier this week.

The discovery of the new outbreak, which has put the coastal province of Samut Sakhon under a 14-day lockdown, threatens to derail plans to revive Thailand’s vital tourism industry, risking a continuation of a recession.

“Right now we know the source of this outbreak and we have health measures in place to contain the virus. We’re still able to handle it,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said to reporters in Bangkok on Wednesday. “I’m concerned that the cause of this outbreak may be from the migrant workforce.”

Prayuth said he will decide at a Covid-19 committee meeting on Thursday which measures to implement ahead of the new year. The meeting will also determine which provinces are at high risk of the virus’ spread.

The health and labor ministries have been ordered to issue measures on undocumented workers, the premier said.

Of the cases reported by Thailand Wednesday, most of the 39 local transmissions were Thais connected to seafood producers or markets, with seven infections found among people in state quarantine, according to Taweesilp.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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