A total of 686 out of 2,779 fresh markets in red-zoned provinces has failed Covid-19 strict control assessments in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Public Health Ministry revealed today, May 30th.
Dr. Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said that due to the majority of Covid-19 infections discovered in fresh markets in Bangkok in May, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, therefore, has issued closure orders to all 17 markets for cleaning and disinfection.
The Public Health Ministry’s eight main control measures were introduced to strictly enhance the health control in fresh markets in highly controlled areas. The measures are as follows:
- Market operators must perform self-assessments via the “Thai Stop COVID Plus” mobile application. Vendors and market employees must perform self-assessment of their risks of Covid-19 infection through the website “Thai Save Thai”. A number of 3,465 markets were registered. About 2,779 markets have passed the assessment, the remaining 686 have failed as they had loosened their health measures of in-out registrations, crowd controls, and customers’ health screenings.
- Market operators must establish a registration for merchants, vendors, and foreign workers working in the markets as a database for controlling, supervising, and monitoring the workers in the market.
- Market operators must establish a registration for food trucks and their vendors that visit and purchase fresh ingredients at the market for resale.
- Market operators must add cashless payment methods to reduce exposure.
- If any vendors or foreign workers were sick, they must stop working immediately and market operators should notify the local disease control officer as soon as possible.
- Temporary closure of markets for cleaning and disinfection, following the measures set by the provincial authorities.
- If the market is still open, a switching date of operation for each stall must be conducted in order to reduce the crowded environment. Stricter health screening against vendors and customers must also be conducted to ensure they do not come into contact with high-risk groups.
- Fresh markets must improve their measures to meet the health standards and should keep them clean as the top priority.
“Related government departments must strictly control and monitor the markets in their areas. The measures must be practiced very seriously under the collaboration of the Provincial Public Health Office and village health volunteers in each area,” the director-general added.
Several clusters at fresh markets were frequently discovered in the capital and nearby provinces, including Chonburi currently in Si Racha, since the second outbreak of a shrimp market in Samut Sakhon last year. The hygiene and the over-crowded vendors and customers had become issues as they were factors for the virus to easily spread to market visitors and to large groups of people in several areas nationwide.
Closing markets overall, however, is simply not an option state the Thai Government, due to the fact a majority of the population relies on them for their grocery shopping, unlike Western countries in which the majority go to supermarkets. Additionally, the economic and financial hit to farmers and food suppliers would cause significant problems for both the economy and many Thai citizens.
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