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Morning Briefing: 470 New Samut Sakhon Cases; Children’s Day Canceled

Plus: New rapid antibody test, national parks to limit admissions, royal palaces close, emergency decree extended

Coronavirus Covid-19 Update Thailand Herald

Samut Sakhon provincial health officials reported another 470 coronavirus cases found among its migrant-worker population, a figure that will boost Thailand’s official daily count later today to another near-record high.

In a 6 p.m. briefing Monday, local officials said 439 of the cases came from the ongoing aggressive-testing campaign. Of the total, 390 were foreign laborers, and 49 Thais. The rest of the 470 cases were comprised by 25 Thais and six foreigners who voluntarily came to a hospital for testing.

Samut Sakhon has reported 2,871 cases with 329 admitted to hospitals, 158 released and the rest – largely asymptomatic – being held in field-hospital quarantine.

National parks to limit admissions

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa on Monday ordered national parks nationwide to limit visitors by 40-50 percent following a recent visit by coronavirus-infected tourist to Phu Tub Boek mountain in Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park in Phetchabun.

National parks can remain open but must implement containment measures in line with the severity of the outbreak in their areas, Varawut said.

Toilets and other public areas must be sanitized regularly, he said, admission must be capped at a maximum 60 percent of normal and tourists must observe social distancing.

Peaceful Saturday: Children’s Day canceled

It will be safe to go to the mall Saturday, as the usual hoards of wild children typical on Children’s Day will be told to stay home.

The government instructed governors of 28 high-risk provinces to cancel all Children’s Day events for Jan. 9, countermanding earlier advice to “scale back” events.

In Thailand, there are always “plenty of other days to have fun” for the country’s spoiled children, who run even further amok on Children’s Day.

Events like fairs, military weapons displays and battleship tours draw thousands of kids and parents each year and run counter to the government’s goals of avoiding superspreader-potential gatherings.

Chiang Mai imposes ‘red zone’ quarantines

Chiang Mai reported its 50th coronavirus case and imposed quarantines on anyone coming to the northern provinces from any of the 28 “red zone” provinces.

The province shut down five venues for five days where the latest Covid-19 patient had visited, including the Pretty Club Xclusive gentlemen’s club and a Tesco-Lotus store.

Chiang Mai’s governor later said anyone traveling from Bangkok, Rayong, Samut Sakhon, Chonburi or any of the other “highly controlled areas” must submit to mandatory 14-day quarantines upon entering the province.

Royal Palaces Closed

The Bureau of the Royal Household ordered the temporary closure of The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Bant Pa-in Palace, the Puping Palace, Chang Hua Mun Royal Project, Queen Sirikit’s textile museum, Silpa Paendin museum and Sala Chalerm Krung Royal Theatre until January 31.

Rapid, accurate coronavirus antibody test developed

A research team at Prince of Songkhla University announced it has developed a Covid-19 test kit capable of detecting the presence of the coronavirus antibodies in blood in 15 minutes with 99-percent accuracy.

Thirakamol Pengsakul, head of the research team, said Monday that since more than 90 percent of infected people are asymptomatic, the test kit will be useful to detect antibodies of a person exposed to the virus in the past couple of weeks.

He said the test kit has been approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration and mass production can start shortly, with the capacity to produce up to 100,000 test kits a day.

Emergency Decree Extended Again

The CCSA chaired approved another extension of the Emergency Decree nationwide for another 45 days until Feb. 28.

This extension reflects the serious coronavirus outbreak that kicked off Dec. 16. The decision will be rubber-stamped by the Cabinet at its meeting today.

The decree gives the government extraordinary powers and ability to implement policies and procedures like restricting travel and having road checkpoints to help control the Covid-19 coronavirus.

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