Saturday, April 17, 2021

Chula specialist fears virus will spread this Songkran, advises extreme caution

Apr 07. 2021
Dr Yong Poovorawan
Dr Yong Poovorawan
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By THE NATION

The latest cluster of Covid-19 cases linked to Bangkok’s entertainment venues could pose a new challenge for Thailand, especially during the upcoming Songkran festival, Chulalongkorn University virology specialist Dr Yong Poovorawan warned in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

“Infected patients from new hotspots are mostly young pub goers, therefore their symptoms will be minimal or hard to detect, making it difficult to control the outbreak while those infected could unknowingly spread the virus to others,” Yong said.

Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang announced on Monday the closure of all entertainment venues in Khlong Toei, Wattana (Thong Lor and Ekkamai) and Bang Khae districts until April 19, after 118 people who visited entertainment venues in these areas tested positive for the virus. Restaurants and entertainment venues in other districts are allowed to stay open until only 9pm and ordered to maintain strict Covid-19 preventive measures.

“Compared to April last year, the number of infected persons this April has jumped from dozens to hundreds per day,” Yong pointed out. “This is because last year people took preventive measures, including checking in and out via the Thai Chana mobile platform, whereas nowadays most people ignore these measures,” he said.

“Furthermore, last year the government moved Songkran holidays in April to other months to limit inter-provincial travel, but this year Songkran holidays will go ahead as usual (April 13-15). The long weekend starts as early as April 10 and a large number of people are expected to travel to their hometowns” said Yong. “So the risk of the outbreak spreading during Songkran this year is greater, as young people who have unknowingly contracted the virus could spread it to their family members, especially elders during the reunion,” he warned.

“I want to urge those who will visit their families during Songkran to strictly adhere to preventive measures, including wearing face masks, washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distance and avoiding touching public surfaces,” Yong wrote.

“Alternatively, you can visit them online via video calls or video conferencing, which is also a great way to save on travel expenses while keep everyone safe from the virus,” Yong advised.

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