Big cleaning is held in Chiang Rai to ensure visitors about their health safety from Covid-19. Credit: Chiang Rai Public Relations Office

No further local transmissions of Covid-19 out of the Tachilek infections: Disease Control Department

Two weeks or so after having been spooked by the re-emergence of local transmissions of Covid-19, the country has still been spared from a widespread outbreak as seven provinces with Covid-19 infections from Tachilek returnees are still declared safe so far, Dr. Opas Karnkawinphong, the Disease Control Department’s Director General, has said.

Briefing the press today, Dr. Opas assured the public that there are no further local transmissions of Covid-19 out of Tachilek returnees, who had contracted the disease while visiting this Myanmar’s border town and have been reported of the infections since late last month after crossing back to Thailand.

So far, there are still two people who have contracted the disease further from them. This is out of over 7,000 identified as carrying risks and receiving the testing for Covid-19. Dr. Opas called these two patients as being in “the Circle 1 outbreak”, and they have not spread the disease further to people in a wider scope of Circle 2.

They, including 49 Tachilek returnees, are reported of residing in seven provinces, but as there are no further reports of local transmissions, that means there are no widespread outbreaks of the virus locally and these provinces are therefore declared safe like other provinces, Dr. Opas said.

These provinces are Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Phichit, Ratchaburi, Singaburi, and Bangkok. Festivals in days ahead could be organised, but with caution, Dr. Opas noted.

Since November 28, Thailand has reported a string of Covid-19 infection cases, brought into the country from Tachilek of Myanmar, where at least the first batch of 13 women from Northern provinces including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Phayao, and as far as Pichit, Ratchaburi, and Bangkok in the Central region had travelled to the town to work in or visit some entertainment venues before sneaking back mostly to the country via natural borders to elude 14-day quarantine.

Instead of undertaking self-quarantine, some of them were reported of spending time around in night entertainment venues and a music festival in Chiang Rai.

As the first case of them was intercepted and reported of being positive to Covid-19 on November 27 in Chiang Mai, following days of sickness before sneaking back to Thailand on November 24, they had been followed up and taken to hospital.

Up to 699 people were the first big batch in the past week to have been identified as having both high and low risks of Covid-19 infection, as having contacted with these people in various venues and occasions.

At least two of the identified cases were then announced of having contracted the virus from them, being the first batch of local transmission re-emergence after months of absence. One is a male friend of the woman from Phayao who accompanied her to the music festival in Chiang Rai on November 29, and the other is a passenger from Singburi boarding on the same flight in Chiang Rai with one of these Covid-19 patients.

So far, up to 49 of Tachilek returnees tested for the virus have been reported, 17 of them had sneaked into the country, prompting concerns over illegal entry as a prime channel for the spreading of the virus here again.

Credit: Public Health Ministry

State quarantine infections

Since December 5, intra- infections within the state provided quarantine facilities have been reported, with the first case being a medical staff taking care of Covid-19 prone stayers under the quarantine.

Since, at least five more medical staff of the same group have been reported of having contracted the virus from her, raising another concern of local infections of the virus in state quarantine facilities.

As reported by the department, from March to May, there were 108 medical staff having been infected with Covid-19.

The infections among medical staff have re-emerged again among these six cases. The first Covid-19 infected medical staff had travelled in the city on MRT and BTS, but the department has allayed public fears, saying she had spent only 10 to 15 minutes while wearing a mask on her face all the time, so there is low risk of infections from her in the public transportation.

Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, COVID-19 Situation Administration Center’s spokersperson, said worldwide, 70 million cases have been reported today, with 1.58 milliom deaths, the number which is rapidly jumping with over half a million of new infections per day.

“Imported cases especially from illegal border crossing still pose a threat and need stringent surveillance,” said Dr. Taweesin.