Bangkok, Dec 21 (efe-epa).- The authorities in Thailand on Monday announced 382 fresh cases of Covid-19, most of them among immigrants working in a seafood market near Bangkok, making it the largest hotspot in the country since the start of the pandemic.
Of the 382 cases, 360 are from the seafood market in Samut Sakhon province, taking the total number of infections from the area to 821 since this outbreak was detected on Thursday, according to data from the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said cases are expected to increase further in the coming days as 10,300 Covid-19 tests are being conducted in Samut Sakhon and other nearby provinces.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said that he had asked health authorities to be ready for the possibility of imposing nationwide restrictions, although currently the measures are limited to Samut Sakhon, a locality adjacent to the capital.
The market and dormitories affected by the outbreak have been cordoned off and authorities have ordered the closure of establishments like gyms and schools, while dining at restaurants has also been prohibited although takeaway facilities are available.
Immigrant workers have been hit by coronavirus outbreaks in many countries of the region, including Malaysia and Singapore, partly due to living in crowded conditions that make physical distancing difficult.
Thailand has so far kept the pandemic in control and its numbers are relatively low with around 5,200 infections and 60 deaths registered so far.
Thai authorities have maintained strict border controls, but there are hardly any restrictions within the country except the mandatory use of masks in public places, where physical distancing measures are also enforced occasionally.
In recent months, authorities have eased entry requirements for the country to boost the tourist sector, which accounts for 12-20 percent of Thailand’s economy.
However, all travelers entering Thailand have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a hotel or hospital.
According to the Bank of Thailand, the country’s economy could drop up to 8.1 percent due to the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic. EFE-EPA