11 July 2024

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will launch mass COVID-19 screening, using rapid antigen test kits (ATKs), targeting about 19,000 vendors and workers at 29 of the largest wet markets in the capital, in a bid to contain the spread of the contagion.

A tele-conference, chaired by Mr. Chawin Sirinark, deputy permanent secretary of the BMA, was held Friday with representatives of the 29 wet markets and city health officials, to discuss the city’s screening operation and to seek cooperation from the market operators.

According to the city’s health office, there are 12 “big” wet markets, each containing more than 500 stalls. There are also 17 other markets, each comprising two or more smaller markets, located close to each other.

All vendors and workers at the 29 wet markets will be subject to screening with ATKs every week for a month, with the BMA providing the test kits free of charge. If one person at a stall is found to be infected, the stall in question will be closed for 14 days. If two are infected, all the vendors and workers in the market will be tested and if 10% or more test positive, the entire market will be closed for 14 days.

People living in communities around the market will also be tested and a community quarantine facility will be set up, either in the market or in one of the communities, to accommodate the infected, who will be provided with basic medication, food and health counselling by medical personnel.

Preventative measures will be imposed at the markets, which will include improvement of ventilation systems, regular disinfection, especially frequently touched surfaces, less use of cash in transactions and increased electronic money transfers, social distancing and fewer entrances and exits.