Sharing school vans blamed for COVID infections among students in Ubon Ratchathani

Students attend morning assembly as schools reopen due to the easing of restrictions after a temporary closure to combat the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Bangkok on February 1, 2021. Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

Travelling together in school vans by students of different schools, in Muang district of Thailand’s north-eastern province of Ubon Ratchathani, is being blamed for new COVID-19 infections by provincial health officials.

Two schools have been ordered to close until the end of this month, after 24 primary students tested positive for the virus, and 295 other students and their teachers have been quarantined for observation after being in close contact with the infected.

Other schools in the vicinity of the those where new infections were detected have also been closed, but only until next week.

Online teaching has been reintroduced as a temporary measure.

On Wednesday, health officials conducted COVID-19 tests, using rapid antigen test kits (ATKs), on 367 students at a school. 19 of them tested positive and officials say that they will take secondary RT-PCR tests for confirmation.

Ubon Ratchathani has logged 20,967 COVID-19 cases, since April 1st this year, and 168 deaths. Almost 1,000 are still being treated in hospitals.

Meanwhile, in another north-eastern province, Nong Bua Lamphu, 66 students and teachers at a school in Muang district have been found to be infected with COVID-19, forcing officials from the disease control operations centre to place 159 students and teachers, considered as being at high risk, in quarantine in a school building for 14 days for observation.

Health officials say any of those in isolation who develop flu-like symptoms will be sent to the district hospital.

The school has been closed until November 28th and is being disinfected.

Health investigators said that a teacher was the first to be found infected, prompting officials to conduct more rapid antigen tests and found 65 more cases.

Several other schools across the country have been temporarily closed soon after the reopening on November 1st due to COVID concerns.

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