A Thai disease expert has warned that people returning home for Songkran could be a vector for spreading the coronavirus. The warning came from Prof. Thiravat Hemachudha at Chulalongkorn University.
Songkran is a major event when young working people return home en mass to visit their parents and other family members, he said. But their behavior also makes them prone to spread the virus to other people.
“The younger age group can efficiently spread the disease as they are active and love socializing. Especially after work or school,” Dr Thiravat said.
When they return home during the Songkran break the coronavirus situation in Thailand could worsen, he said.
Prof. Thirawat, a member of the faculty of medicine, is an epidemiologist specializing in emerging diseases.
His worries about young people were reflected in the latest report on local Covid-19 cases on Thursday. When 11 Thai people aged 25-38 years were found infected with the virus. The first cluster infection detected in Thailand.
Some members spread the infection to the others in their group. They shared drinking glasses and cigarettes together infecting each other.
Thai Heath department warns of super spreaders
Prof. Thiravat said large gatherings of local and holidaymakers for parties could be an accelerator for the virus. Especially if health measures to contain the virus are not strictly enforced. He advised a 14-day quarantine for all, both locals and foreigners, before the festival.
“People misunderstood that I wanted to lock down houses, provinces and the country,” he said in the radio interview. “I just want to ensure health safety.”
Many major Songkran activities have already been cancelled. These include the celebrations on Khao San Road in Bangkok, in Chiang Mai, at Patong beach in Phuket, in Hat Yai and Khon Kaen.
Dr Thiravat said the number of cases in Thailand was “on the rise”, with more more still to come. Its like a “chain reaction”.
“What we don’t know is how many Thai men and women have been infected and how many can spread it,” he said.
There are 70 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Thailand, with the latest being the cluster infection. It was announced by the Health Department on Thursday.
The health department ruled out that they were super spreaders and said their families remained safe.
The department says it is also trying to prevent Thailand entering the third phase of the outbreak. Above all a mass coronavirus infections from super spreaders.
But Dr Thiravat argued that the country is already in the third stage.
“The fact is, we are already in the third phase. But we do not have a large number of patients in serious condition who need to be treated in an ICU,” he said.