Asia Minute: Thailand’s New Coronavirus Spike

Dec 25, 2020

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, each country has adopted its own policies to control the spread of the virus — with mixed success. Thailand has had a relatively low number of cases, but a new spike has led to a quick and concentrated response from the government.

Thailand is dealing with a sudden increase in cases of COVID-19, but not through the entire country. This week there’s been a surge in cases in a province which is a center for the seafood industry, and home to large numbers of migrant workers. 

Authorities have targeted a shrimp market there as the likely starting point for the latest outbreak.

The military is setting up a thousand-bed field hospital in the province, and the number of COVID cases has risen sharply — helping send the national case numbers up by more than a thousand in recent days. That’s not much compared to someplace like California, but for Thailand it means the country’s overall count since the outbreak began has spiked by roughly 20% in about a week.

The province is about 30 miles from Bangkok, where health officials are urging caution but have stopped short of severe restrictions on movement.

In Thailand, the government of each province can move quickly to adjust restrictions depending on the spread of the virus, and one focus of concern across the country is the approaching New Year’s celebrations.

Still the majority of the country is not under special restrictions, and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says he’s confident a national lockdown can be avoided.  

He told a news conference, “the important thing is that health experts still confirm that we can contain this.”