Toilet turnstile blamed for 867 COVID-19 infections found in a week at Simummuang market

867 out of 10,480 vendors and workers at the Simummuang fruit and vegetable market in Pathum Thani province screened for COVID-19 by health officials, or 8%, tested positive for the virus, with most infections appearing to have come from touching the turnstile at the coin-operated public toilets in the market.

The figure followed screening of market vendors and workers between May 7th and 15th. 70% of the infected are Thais and the rest are foreign migrant workers. The infections are limited to 2 of the 10 zones in the market, according to Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Kiatiphum Wongrajit yesterday (Tuesday).

Dr. Kiatiphum said that the two zones have been closed off and a field hospital, with 400 beds, has been set up in the market, with another, also equipped with 400 beds, scheduled to open on Thursday.

For the other eight zones, which remain open, checkpoints have been set up at five access points, where all people entering are required to register via the Thai Chana mobile app, he said, adding that vendors are required to show their COVID-19 free certificates before they can start trading at the market.

Health investigators have identified the turnstile at the entrance to the public toilets as the suspected source of most infections, as users have to insert coins into the slot at the gate.

Dr. Kiatiphum said that removal of the turnstile gates has been ordered and sanitation gel has been placed in the toilets, adding that the market is disinfected every day.


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