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‘Wolf at the Door’ as Myanmar’s Coronavirus Epidemic Reaches Thai Border

Disease control director predicts Thailand Covid-19 cases to soar 68% to 6,000

Health workers in Myanmar Covid-19 Coronavirus

Covid-19 cases in Thailand could hit 6,000 if the out-of-control coronavirus epidemic in Myanmar spills over the border, the Disease Control Department warned Friday.

Dr. Tanarak Plipat, the department’s deputy director-general, said that while Thailand currently has reported 3,575 cases – with all but two imported over the past four months – that figure could soar 68 percent if infected illegal migrant workers bring the virus into the country.

“The situation in Myanmar started in its western state of Rakhine. The disease has move eastward and has widely spread in Yangon for a while” Tanarak said. “Reports on patients began in other cities including the Mon state which borders Thailand. The disease is approaching the Thai border.”

He urged the government and private sectors to join forces to block illegal immigration.

Myanmar outbreak out of control

Myanmar on Friday again reported more than 1,000 new Covid-19 cases and 11 deaths.

The Ministry of Health and Sports said the new cases came from tests performed Thursday on 5,352 people who came in contact with other infected people. Of those, 1,010 – 19 percent  – tested positive. Positive-test rates that high show the spread of the virus is uncontrolled.

As of Friday morning, Myanmar had reported a total 14,383 cases, including 321 fatalities and 4,156 recoveries.

Covid-19 has been reported in 205 townships in 14 regions and states in the country, with only Kayah State reporting none, the ministry said. The country has been reporting 700-800 cases a day with some days soaring above 1,000.

Myanmar now ranks fourth in Southeast Asia, overtaking Malaysia’s 11,484 cases. It is now behind only the Philippines (with more than 314,000 cases), Indonesia (more than 291,000) and Singapore (more than 57,000).

Meanwhile, Thailand saw six new Covid-19 cases on Friday, all imported One each came from South Sudan and Japan and two each from India and the United Arab Emirates. Of the total 3,575 cases, 3,354 recovered. The death toll remained at 59.

‘Hard to predict’ second wave

On Thursday, Tanasak had had said it was difficult to predict if Thailand would be hit with a “second wave” of the coronavirus.

Despite the Burmese “wolf at the door”, he said Thais and expats should not be overly concerned but remain vigilent with mask use and social distancing.

Some countries have faced second waves but effectively and quickly controlled them, Tanasak said, citing New Zealand and Vietnam.

“Whether the second wave will happen depends on measures of each country. I believe that if everyone is prepared, situations will be better handled,” he said.

“I think that if we have strong measures, it will be more difficult for the second wave to happen and even if it occurs, the number of patients will be small,” he said in the new conference a day before revising his estimate to 2,425 new cases.

This article includes reporting by the Thai News Agency.