As COVID-19 cases surge around the world, a cluster in Thailand is causing concern. Even a small cluster can incite fear.
It centers around a hotel in the border town of Myanmar. Several Thai women were infected, causing Bangkok health authorities in Bangkok to hold emergency talk.
Thailand has managed to contain COVID-19 infections to just over 4,000 cases and wants to keep it that way. It isn’t easy with a 2,400-kilometre border shared with Myanmar, where the virus is rampant.
In fact, it has had 1,000 new cases a day in recent months. Now the Thai Public Health Ministry has announced that six more Thai women returning from Tachilek have tested positive, to bring the total to ten, all confined to the north of the country. Two remained in Chiang Mai while the other four apparently took various modes of transport to reach Bangkok, Phayao, Phichit, and Ratchaburi provinces.
Surely on planes and buses, they came in contact with other people, but Thai officials could not confirm the number. The “cluster” of Thai women worked at the same entertainment venue, the1G1 Hotel about 1.5 kilometers from the border.
This hotel has all kinds of facilities from a casino, VIP rooms, a disco, massage parlor and karaoke bar. Obviously, a lot of people partake. In addition, an estimated 70-100 Thai women are employed in the karaoke and VIP rooms alone, serving as models who entertain and flirt with male clients.
According to a hotel staff member, the general manager is in police custody for breaching Myanmar’s disaster laws by opening the venue. Surveillance has been tight since the onset of the pandemic and Thai border patrols have stepped it up even more prevent illegal crossings.
Tachilek, plagued with a seedy reputation, is a known conduit for the so-called Golden Triangle’s lucrative drug trade; and it is home to numerous casinos and brothels.
To date, Myanmar has more than 90,000 confirmed coronavirus infections and under 2,000 deaths, according to the latest official figures. Under lockdown now are parts of northern Rakhine state and the commercial capital, Yangon,.