Thailand sees new COVID-19 case surge, pandemic-hit region under lockdown

Thailand said on Sunday that 576 new COVID-19 cases have been detected, including 516 Myanmar migrant workers announced the day before in Samut Sakhon province, which has been put under lockdown.

Of the total, 535 were local infections while 41 were imported cases, according to figures from the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

The 516 Myanmar migrant workers tested positive for the virus by mobile testing units in Samut Sakhon, about 47 km southwest of Thai capital Bangkok, after a 67-year-old Thai woman vendor at a local seafood market was confirmed being infected earlier this week.

To prevent the spread of the disease, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) on Sunday ordered the closure of schools including child centers in Bangkok's three districts near Samut Sakhon for 14 days.

The BMA called for the cancellation of New Year celebration activities, saying events that could not be suspended must apply for permission. It was also asking public organizations and private sector agencies to allow employees to work from home for the next 14 days.

Samut Sakhon is home to a large number of migrant workers, with a majority of whom coming from Myanmar and employed in the fishing industry.

The provincial authorities have imposed strict measures, including a curfew between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. as well as other social distancing and travel restrictions from Saturday until Jan. 3.

Schools, stadiums and boxing arenas have been ordered temporarily closed while convenience stores will be closed during the curfew period. Restaurants are allowed to offer only take-out and delivery food, with no indoor dining allowed, according to provincial Governor Verasak Vichitsangsri.

A travel ban has been imposed to keep residents of Samut Sakhon from leaving the province during the lockdown, while no migrant workers or other foreigners are allowed to enter.

So far, Thailand has confirmed a total of 4,907 COVID-19 infections, including 3,011 local cases and 1,896 imported cases, with 60 fatalities, according to the CCSA. 

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