'High-risk' evacuees cleared by doctors

'High-risk' evacuees cleared by doctors

Five Thai nationals who were considered at high risk of contracting or spreading the novel coronavirus after arriving on an evacuation flight from Wuhan have been cleared by medical authorities.

They have been allowed rejoin other Thai nationals airlifted out of the locked-down Chinese city last week, who are currently being quarantined at Sattahip Naval Base in Chon Buri, officials say.

Four out of the 138 Thai evacuees were separately quarantined at a hospital in Chon Buri on Feb 4, after they began displaying symptoms shortly after arriving in Thailand.

The fifth patient was never separately quarantined, but was also considered high risk because his roommate, a tour guide, tested positive for the virus.

"They have all been cleared and moved to the coronavirus monitoring centre at Sattahip," said deputy public health minister, Sathit Pitutecha, after he visited them on Sunday.

The minister said all they need to do now is "relax and keep fit", before handing evacuees badminton racquets so they "have something to do" in quarantine.

While their test results came back negative, the five evacuees will still be assigned to stay in a separate building from the others.

"This is a precautionary measure to ensure everyone at the base remain safe and healthy," he said.

Suthep Phetmak, an inspector-general of Public Health Ministry and commander of the coronavirus monitoring centre at Sattahip Navy Base, said the tour guide who tested positive is in good health.

"The patient has not developed severe symptoms and is currently being treated in an isolated room at Queen Sirikit Hospital in Chon Buri," he said.

In another development, permanent secretary for commerce, Bunyarit Kalayanamit, said four vendors in Chon Buri, Surat Thani and Phuket have been caught in action selling face masks at massively marked-up prices.

The government recently listed face masks as a price-controlled item, after prices began skyrocketing as demand quickly outstrips supply.

"These vendors may spend up to seven years in prison, and they will have to pay fines up to 140,000 baht," the permanent secretary said.

On Friday, officials in Bangkok arrested 11 vendors for selling overpriced face masks.

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