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Tests on at-risk groups to double in next month

Tests on at-risk groups to double in next month

BANGKOK: The number of COVID-19 tests on at-risk groups, such as healthcare workers, migrants and new prisoners, is expected to double next month, in line with the government’s efforts to contain the virus, according to the Department of Disease Control.

COVID-19Coronavirushealth
By Bangkok Post

Thursday 30 April 2020, 09:22AM


Medical staff take a swab sample from a monk before he goes into a state quarantine facility in Samut Prakan province. The special facility has been set aside as more than 200 monks and nuns have returned from a pilgrimage in India and New Zealand this week. Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul / Bangkok Post

Medical staff take a swab sample from a monk before he goes into a state quarantine facility in Samut Prakan province. The special facility has been set aside as more than 200 monks and nuns have returned from a pilgrimage in India and New Zealand this week. Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul / Bangkok Post

Suwannachai Watanayingcharoenchai, chief of the CDC, speaking after a board meeting on Wednesday, said the board decided that increasing the number of laboratory tests is necessary as the government plans to relax emergency measures, reports the Bangkok Post.

"We expect to be able to conduct at least 5,000 tests per one million people by next month," Dr Suwannachai said. "We will identify [potential carriers] in migrant worker camps, crowded communities in large cities and hospitals."

He said carriers may not have severe symptoms of COVID-19 or may be asymptomatic, but the virus is still transmittable.

"We will still use the RT-PCR test as this method produces reliable results, but for the groups, we plan to use the saliva technique to safeguard health workers," Dr Suwannachai said. "The accuracy of its results is no different [than RT-PCR]."

He said target places include Samut Sakhon, Bangkok and three provinces in the south of the kingdom. RT-PCR, meanwhile, refers to reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. It is a technique used to detect the novel coronavirus in a person.

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Thailand on Wednesday recorded nine new COVID-19 cases, raising the national tally to 2,947, with no new deaths. He said the Public Health Ministry has focused on identifying carriers among migrant workers after Singapore recorded a spike in infections among its migrants.

Dr Suwannachai said CDC board members during the meeting discussed what steps other agencies can take to allow some businesses to reopen.

These include markets, restaurants, department stores, massage shops, gyms, spas and production houses, he added. Owners will still have to abide by social distancing rules and personal hygiene.

He said that pubs and boxing stadiums must not be allowed to reopen for the time being.

Dr Suwannachai said the board will submit a plan to the Centre for the Covid-19 Situation Administration, which is chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

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