Thailand to expand coronavirus testing as new cases dwindle

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand plans to expand coronavirus testing for critical groups as the number of new cases is dwindling into single digits and some business are reopening, a senior official said on Thursday.

The government aims to reach a total of 400,000 tests from the current level of around 230,000, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

“This is about 6,000 tests for every million individual … and considered a moderate amount globally,” Taweesin said.

Thailand has a population of about 66.5 million and has recorded 2,992 infections since January, with a total of 55 deaths.

The criteria for testing will be expanded to include flu-like symptoms without a fever or the loss of the sense of smell, which will account for 85,000 new tests, he said.

There will also be additional testing for high-risk professions such as medical personnel, screening authorities, migrant workers, public transportation drivers and delivery workers – but not widespread random testing in the population.

“The theory of casting a wide net will not work, but this approach is effective,” Taweesin said.

The number of new cases in Thailand has been declining since April and authorities have said they will consider a second phase for easing of restrictions such as re-opening of businesses next week after allowing smaller businesses to open earlier this month.

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