Crush at Thai vaccination centre sparks Covid-19 fears

The Bang Sue Vaccination Centre in Bangkok's Chatuchak district was packed all day on July 27, 2021. - The Nation

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN/Reuters): Overcrowding at Bangkok's main vaccination centre on Tuesday (July 27) sparked fears of coronavirus cluster outbreaks, after people from other provinces rushed in to get injected before a walk-in measure is scrapped.

Thailand has been seeing a worrying trend of more than 10,000 daily cases of infection for over a week. On Wednesday, it reported a daily record of 16,533 new infections, bringing the country's total accumulated cases to 543,361.

The country's Covid-19 task force also reported 133 new deaths, taking total fatalities to 4,397.

On Tuesday, the Bang Sue Vaccination Centre in Bangkok's Chatuchak district was packed all day, as people took advantage of public holidays to travel to the capital for a jab.

The centre was open to senior citizens for walk-in appointments and to people from other provinces who had pre-booked their jab.

Among the crowds were people from Prachuap Khiri Khan, Samut Sakhon, Saraburi, Ratchaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Lop Buri, Chainat, Phichit and Ang Thong. Monks from Phra Phutthabat temple in Saraburi had also made the journey for a jab.

People queueing at the centre said they had left their provinces early in the morning via pre-booked vans.

Some were disappointed after being turned away because they did not meet the criteria for vaccination.

Many were seen pleading with officials for a jab. Others even wandered around asking if they could pose as carers for elderly people in order to be vaccinated.

The centre had earlier announced that it would suspend walk-in appointments from Thursday and receive only people who have registered via the mobile network.

News and photos of the crowded Bang Sue centre have been circulating on social media earlier this week.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha on Tuesday sought to dispel rumours that the vaccination centre would be shut down to prevent overcrowding.

"The Bang Sue vaccination centre will continue providing jabs to people who have preregistered online. It will rearrange vaccination areas and employ social distancing practices to prevent crowding," said Mr Prayut.

He also said that measures would be employed to ensure faster services, such as having elders receive jabs in the morning and other groups in the afternoon, or allowing people under 60 who are healthy to skip the blood pressure test.

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