BANGKOK: Thailand on Thursday (Sep 3) reported its first local coronavirus transmission in more than 100 days, officials said, after a man who was recently imprisoned failed a routine test at a Bangkok jail.
The man, 37, tested positive on Wednesday during scheduled weekly testing, the Department of Corrections said in a statement, adding that he had not travelled abroad or been in close contact with a known positive case.
The man was arrested for drug abuse on Aug 26, according to the Associated Press.
The man, a former nightclub DJ, has since been hospitalized and prisoners who came into contact with him have been isolated.
All of Thailand's cases in the past three months have been imported and detected in quarantine.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday had congratulated the nation for having achieved 100 days without any confirmed local cases of the coronavirus. The last person to test positive was on May 24.
Thailand has sustained relatively light health damage from the pandemic, even though in January it was the first country outside China to confirm a case.
But its economy has been devastated by the absence of foreign tourists, who are banned from entry, and by a drop in exports.
Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the health ministry's disease control department, stressed that the infected man had been kept in a small group of quarantined inmates in a standard procedure to limit the possible spread of the virus.
In another routine procedure, he was tested as part of a group of 34 new inmates. He had only a mild possible symptom, excessive mucus.
“This case confirms what we try to say all along. We can’t keep the number of cases to zero but what we can do is to detect the cases quickly and limit transmission,” Suwannachai said at a news conference.
“At this time, we are ready in terms of medical supplies, medical staff and hospital beds. We must be aware of the existing cases but we must not be scared.”
The authorities will test five close contacts in his family and 20 people including lawyers who were in court with him, and the inmates who were quarantined with him will also be tested for COVID-19 again.