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By Linda Khoo Hui Li
BANGKOK, April 7 -- Thailand has confirmed the first domestic cases of COVID-19 B117 UK variant amid a sharp rise in infections in the kingdom.
A senior virologist from Chulalongkorn University Dr Yong Poovorawan said the UK variant spreads 1.7 times faster than viruses without the mutation.
“The strain found in Thonglo (entertainment outlets) cluster. A total of 24 patients found carrying the variant from the United Kingdom,” he said at a briefing at Public Health Ministry today.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob was tested positive for COVID-19 today while at least 10 cabinet ministers and lawmakers began self-isolation today after coming into contact with positive COVID-19 cases in Bangkok.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who attended a religious ceremony in Buriram province was among the cabinet ministers undergoing home quarantine.
Saksayam, who is among those who received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last month, believed he caught the virus from an official at his office. At present, he is receiving treatment at Buriram Hospital. Saksayam was due to receive the second dose today.
Over the last 24 hours, Thailand recorded 334 new COVID-19 cases and zero fatalities, bringing the total cumulative cases to 29,905 and 95 fatalities to date.
Earlier, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan o-cha chaired a virtual cabinet meeting after the cabinet ministers underwent self-quarantine.
Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) assistant spokesperson Dr Apisamai Srirangsan said of the 334 new cases, CCSA said a total of 327 were local transmissions including 174 were those seeking treatment at hospitals and 153 through active case detection. Seven imported cases reported.
She said Bangkok recorded 216 new cases linked to nightspots in the capital.
The fresh wave of COVID-19 outbreak since Sunday spread to 27 provinces to date, she said at COVID-19 daily press briefing.