Three more COVID-19 cases in Samut Sakhon as employers told not to hire illegal migrants

Employers in Thailand’s the coastal province of Samut Sakhon have been warned not to hire illegal migrant workers from Myanmar, or face harsh penalties, as health officials step up their investigation into the source of infection of a 67-year old Thai woman. Three people closely related to the locally-infected woman have now also tested positive for COVID-19.

A directive, issued by the provincial labour chief, instructs all employers to take their new legal migrant workers for swab tests and to follow the set guidelines if any of them are found to be infected.

For existing employees, employers were required to provide them with protection, in strict line with the measures laid down by the Ministry of Public Health.

Dr. Sophon Iamsirithavorn, director general of the Communicable Diseases Division, said today that the three new infections include the woman’s son and two Myanmar workers.

The woman is believed to be the first locally-acquired case in Samut Sakhon province for several months. She has never travelled abroad and has been selling fresh seafood in the market.  She first experienced muscle pains and anosmia on December 13th and went for swab tests on December 17th, which confirmed her infection.  Currently, she is being treated at the provincial hospital.

Since her infection, health officials have collected saliva samples from 165 people, including 26 who are regarded as being at high-risk and 139 as low-risk, including 125 Myanmar migrant workers in the same market. The market was ordered to close for three days on Thursday for a cleanup and disinfection by local officials.

Meanwhile, health investigators have stepped efforts to pin down the source of the woman’s infection, among people living in the infected woman’s neighborhood, a nearby market and hostels of Myanmar migrant workers.

Members of the public in the province have also been told to wear face masks all the time when out-doors.

Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has instructed authorities in Samut Sakhon to try to wrap up the investigation as soon as possible, for fear that the infection may affect the New Year celebrations.

He hinted that as many as 10,000 people, including those at high and low risk, may have to be screened as he said he will visit the province this weekend to see the situation at first hand.

According to the CCSA today, 16 new COVID-19 cases were recorded, including the 67-year old woman in Samut Sakhon. The other 15 include five from Saudi Arabia, four from Myanmar, two from Switzerland and one each from India, the Netherlands, Turkey and the UK.

Cumulative infections in Thailand, to date, are 4,297, with 4,005 recoveries.



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