Bangkok Shuts Down Market Complex at Center of New Virus Cluster

Thailand shut down a large market complex in Bangkok after it emerged as a new cluster of Covid-19 cases, prompting authorities to ramp up testing and order vaccination for those at high risk of infection.

The Bang Khae Market compound, which houses six markets selling everything from fresh vegetables to raw meats and cooked food, will remain closed for three days after Tuesday’s cleaning and disinfection, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration said. The Thai capital reported 100 new infections on Tuesday, majority of which came from active case finding efforts to curb the spread, officials said.

The spike in cases come as the Southeast Asian nation accelerates a national inoculation program before further easing quarantine rules for foreign visitors. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha was among the first to get the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine on Tuesday after a local panel of health experts said the shot posed no risk of clotting, a key reason cited by some European countries to suspend its use.

Although the number of infections reported from the Bangkok cluster is still low, an outbreak at a seafood market in a neighboring province in December led to the country’s biggest wave of infections. Authorities are seeking to contain the outbreak ahead of a peak travel period during the Thai New Year next month.

The Bangkok mayor’s office will begin vaccinating people at high risk of infections in the Bang Khae area from Wednesday, spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang said Tuesday. The office plans to make available 6,000 doses of vaccine for the area, and aims to test as much as 10,000 people in the next 10 days.

Thailand reported 149 new cases on Tuesday, taking the nation’s total case count to 27,154. The country has administered more than 46,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech Ltd. vaccine since the start of an inoculation program on Feb. 28.

– Bloomberg

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