Thailand reports 35 new COVID-19 cases, reveals three disease scenarios

Thailand confirmed 35 additional cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on March 18, raising the total number in the Southeast Asian nation to 212.

Volunteers and municipal workers clean surfaces at the Wat Suthat Thepwararam temple in Bangkok (Photo: AFP)
Volunteers and municipal workers clean surfaces at the Wat Suthat Thepwararam temple in Bangkok (Photo: AFP)
Speaking at a press conference, Director-General of the Disease Control Department of Thailand Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai said the cases on the day fall into two groups, one linked to earlier cases and the other mostly with overseas connections.
From the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the nation has reported one death, with 42 people having fully recovered and being discharged from hospital, and 169 others being treated.
Earlier, the Communicable Disease Division of Thailand unveiled three scenarios on the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, projecting that the number of new cases each week will be at its peak between January and February next year.
The first and best case scenario forecast by the division is based on an assumption that one patient will transmit the virus to 1.6 persons which would result in 400,000 new infections by the end of next year, according to Dr Sophon Iamsirithavorn, chief of the division.
In this case, the virus would ultimately settle down to become a seasonal endemic like the flu. However, Dr Sophon stressed that this assumes that state measures designed to prevent people from coming into contact with the virus, such as bans on large gatherings and putting those from virus-hit areas in quarantine, prove effective.
The second estimate putting the rate of transmission at 1.8 would see Thailand struck by 9.9 million cases by the end of 2020.
The third scenario would see measures to curb the spread of the virus prove ineffective, resulting in rapid transmission at a rate of 2.2 new cases per infection with 37.4 million cases of COVID-19 in Thailand diagnosed over the same period.
However, Dr Sophon expressed his belief that the country's efforts to control the spread of the disease make this estimate more of a worst-case scenario than a realistic projection.
The Thai government has ordered closure of schools and gathering places such as clubs, bars and movie theatres in Bangkok capital city and neighbouring localities for two weeks starting from March 18, and put the traditional Songkran holidays on hold to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

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