BANGKOK: Thailand reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday (Mar 11), including a Singaporean man who owns a restaurant in Bangkok’s business district.
The new patients bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in Thailand to 59.
The 36-year-old Singaporean man fell ill on Monday and went to a private hospital in the Thai capital, where he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, said Dr Sopon Iamsirithaworn, director of the Communicable Diseases Division at the Ministry of Public Health.
“I did not have any symptoms until Sunday early morning. Even on Sunday, all I had was some chills and a body ache but I did not have a fever," the patient wrote on his restaurant’s Facebook page on Wednesday, adding that he wanted to provide an "honest and open" update.
"No runny nose, no cough, no fever, no headache. I tested myself the entire Sunday with two thermometers and it didn’t register a fever.”
He said he had mainly stayed at home on Sunday with "light symptoms" and went to hospital on Monday morning before he developed a fever. His restaurant Ohana Poke will be closed until further notice and his staff are on a 14-day self quarantine, he added.
Dr Sopon said the restaurateur's contacts are of various nationalities, including Singaporean.
“Although he had stayed in Thailand for a certain period of time, which is longer than the incubation period of the disease, he provided services to tourists and foreigners and could thus have contracted the virus that way,” Dr Sopon added.
The restaurant owner also attached a picture of his boarding pass and passport, which showed that he had flown from Singapore to Bangkok on a Scoot flight on Feb 2.
“It has been more than one month since I have been back to Bangkok. If 14 days is the maximum incubation/infection period, I mostly likely caught it locally in Bangkok, Thailand,” he wrote.
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During Wednesday's press conference, Dr Sopon mentioned another patient in Singapore who had travelled to Thailand for work on Mar 4 and returned to Singapore two days later before being diagnosed with COVID-19 on Mar 7.
“Considering the incubation period of the disease, he’s believed to have been infected before [visiting Thailand]. He also has travel history to England, besides coming from Singapore. Both countries have infected patients,” Dr Sopon said.
“Based on our examination, none of the 84 contacts at the same workplace are ill. Lab tests also showed no infection of COVID-19.
"So, for this case, we can conclude the infection didn’t happen in Thailand and the disease hasn’t been spread to other people within the country."
THE OTHER NEW CASES
The five other new cases in Thailand include two employees at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. The two men, aged 21 and 40, had close contact with foreigners, Dr Sopon said.
The three other cases are a 27-year-old Thai woman who visited South Korea, a 40-year-old Thai man who visited Japan and a 25-year-old Thai man who did not travel overseas but had visited various locations in Thailand frequented by foreigners.
Of the 59 cases, 34 have been discharged from hospital, while 24 are still receiving medical treatment, the Thai health ministry reported on Wednesday. One patient has died.
According to Dr Sopon, Thailand does not have a big cluster of COVID-19 cases and most of the patients in Thailand had close contact with COVID-19 cases from overseas.
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On Tuesday, Thailand’s Disease Control Department added Spain to a list of destinations that should be avoided by travellers because of the COVID-19 situation.
The list includes Taiwan, Singapore, Germany, France, Spain and certain cities in Japan, namely Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, Wakayama, Kanagawa, Chiba, Okinawa, Kyoto and Osaka.
“Upon returning from this country [Spain], we advise you to isolate yourself in a room or an accommodation not shared by other people,” Dr Sopon said, adding the same recommendation applies to people who had travelled from any of the areas on the list.
Earlier this month, the Thai Public Health Ministry declared mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy and South Korea “dangerous communicable disease infected zones”.
According to the Communicable Diseases Act, communicable disease control officers can request travellers from the disease-infected areas to be isolated, quarantined or controlled for observation in order to prevent and control the COVID-19 outbreak.
Travellers from these locations are required to present a medical certificate and proof of medical insurance to airlines before checking in at the airport of embarkation, said the ministry on its website.
“When travellers go through the screening in Thailand, everybody is required to monitor their health at home or a hotel room for 14 days and to truthfully report their health conditions to disease control officers on a daily basis,” it added.