Bangkok: Thailand has reported its first domestic coronavirus transmission in more than 100 days, after a man recently jailed and with no overseas travel history tested positive in a Bangkok prison during a routine check for new inmates.
Authorities moved quickly to locate and isolate people in contact with the 37-year-old and trace his movements over the past two weeks, including three places where had worked, the jail and the court at which he had appeared.
“We may go further back but we will examine this first,” said Walailak Chaifu, Director of the country’s Bureau of Epidemiology.
The new case will be a setback for Thailand, which has been credited with keeping the highly contagious virus under control, while maintaining months of immigration curbs that have devastated its tourism-reliant economy. It has removed most of its internal coronavirus restrictions.
The inmate, a former nightclub DJ, tested positive on Wednesday and had not travelled abroad or been in close contact with a known case, the corrections department said.
All of Thailand’s cases since late May – typically less than a handful each day – have been found in state quarantine among people returning from overseas. It has reported just 3427 cases and 58 deaths in total.
Thailand is the second country in south-east Asia to see community transmission resume following a lengthy containment period, after the virus resurfaced in Vietnam in late July, also after a 100-day absence.
Methipoj Chakametikul, head of Bangkok’s disease control division, said five “high-risk individuals” had been identified at the inmate’s home plus two others who had left Bangkok.
“We ordered the closure of his work places for three days for cleaning and are investigating his close co-workers,” Methipoj said.
Officials sought to downplay the prospect of a second wave of cases and said more laboratory results were needed to be certain that the infection was recent.
“We’ve identified an infection, but in terms of an outbreak, we are investigating,” said Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoen, director-general of the Department of Disease Control.
“If we all help each other, then it will not lead to an outbreak.”
Fauci warns seven US states to be on alert over long weekend
Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease expert, said that seven states that have seen upticks in COVID-19 cases should be particularly vigilant over the coming Labor Day long weekend, and warned that if Americans are “careless” there could be another jump in cases this autumn.
“There are several states that are at risk for surging, namely North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.
“Those states are starting to see an increase in the percent positive of their testing; that is generally predictive that there’s going to be a problem.”
Memorial Day on May 25 marked a turning point for many newly reopened states, which saw previously moderate COVID-19 outbreaks start to spread. July 4th came just a few weeks before the worst of the US spike, with new cases regularly topping 60,000 later that month.
On Thursday, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of deaths due to coronavirus had risen by 1009 to 185,092 in the previous 24 hours, while the number of new infections in that time had risen by 39,711 to 6,087,403.
While new infections are down significantly, the daily death toll has been hovering near 1000, based on a seven-day average. That has many worried about how the country will fare over the long Labor Day weekend.
Fauci joined Vice-President Mike Pence on a call with governors this week to urge them to tell their residents to follow guidance on masks, social distancing and other measures to lower the risks of contagion to ensure there aren’t repeats of the surges following the Memorial Day and July 4th weekends.
“If we’re careless about it, then we could wind up with a surge following Labor Day,” Fauci said. “It really depends on how we behave as a country.”
France again registers more than 7000 new COVID-19 infections
France registered more than 7000 new coronavirus infections over 24 hours for the second time in two days, the health ministry said on Thursday, while hospitalisations for the virus also rose again.
The health ministry reported that the cumulative total of confirmed cases rose to 300,181, up by 7157, and just shy of a 7578 record set on March 31 during lockdown. It had reported an increase of 7017 cases on Wednesday and first reached the 7000 level again last week.
While the lockdown record for daily infections has not yet been broken, the seven-day moving average rose to 5783, and is above the record set during lockdown for a seventh day.
During lockdown, which ran from March 17 to May 10, the seven-day moving average of new infections set a high of 4537 on April 1.
The number of people in intensive care with the disease rose again for the fifth consecutive day on Thursday, up by 18 to 464, and the number of people in hospital also rose for a fifth day in a row, up 11 to 4643.
The death toll increased by 20 to 30,706, the fourth consecutive day of a double-digit death toll.
Israel to impose lockdown in areas with most coronavirus cases
An Israeli cabinet sub-committee has voted to impose a lockdown on 30 towns and neighbourhoods that are suffering from the highest coronavirus infection rates, Israel’s public broadcaster Kan reported.
Under the lockdown, businesses and most schools will be closed and residents will be required to remain within 500 metres of their homes, the radio and TV broadcaster said.
The lockdown, which is subject to review by a parliamentary committee, will cover some 600,000 people, Kan said. The towns on the list are mainly made up of Arab and ultra-Orthodox residents.
The cabinet decision was taken after new daily cases surged in the past few weeks, reaching a record 3000 on Wednesday. Close to 123,000 cases have been diagnosed in Israel, including 976 fatalities.
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