Thailand records 401 new COVID-19 cases today, Health Minister claims no third wave

Thailand today recorded 401 new COVID-19 cases, including a cluster of 318 infections among illegal immigrants held at Suan Plu and Bang Khen detention centres, the CCSA announced today (Tuesday).

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul maintains, however, that the current surge in new cases is not a sign of a third wave of infections, but just cluster infections and that the situation is under control.

Of the new cases, 383 are locally-acquired infections, including 337 found during proactive screening in communities.

Cumulative infections, since December 15th, are 24,040, of which 22,589 have recovered.  One more death was reported today, raising the death toll to 92 since early last year.

Dr. Chawetsan Namwat, the acting chief of the Health Emergency Division of the Department of Disease Control, said that city health officials first detected 9 COVID-19 infections at Bang Khen immigration detention centre on March 11th, with 52 more cases found two days later.

16 more illegal immigrants from Nepal were found to be infected on March 15th, bringing the total number of infected Nepalese in detention to 77.

Dr. Chawetsan said the surge of infections among the detained illegal immigrants prompted the Public Health Ministry and city’s administration to conduct proactive screening at Bang Khen and Suan Plu immigration centres.

1,556 illegal immigrants and officials were tested and 318 were positive, raising the number of infections in the cluster to 395, most of them asymptomatic.

Public Health Minister Anutin claimed today that the current surge of new cases is due to cluster infections, not a third wave of the pandemic, adding that most of the cases among illegal immigrants are asymptomatic and they will be cured in about ten days, without the need for Favipiravir anti-viral medication.

He asked the public not be worried about the daily number of new cases, but focus on the limited spread instead.

The minister gave his assurance that, after one and a half years of fighting the virus, Thai medical personnel have become more experienced and more efficient in coping with it.

Regarding the development of vaccines by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, in cooperation with a US-based medical institution, Mr. Anutin said the candidate vaccines are now in the human trial phase, with more than 100 volunteers.

He said he expects the GPO, in the near future, will be able to produce about 30 million doses of the Thai-made vaccines annually.


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