An elderly Chinese woman who received a "Thai cocktail" of HIV and flu drugs to treat severe Covid-19-related pneumonia left hospital on Tuesday after making a full recovery, a government official said.
Visiting the 74-year-old woman at Bangkok's Rajvithi Hospital, Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha said she was suffering from severe pneumonia when she was transferred there from a private hospital in Hua Hin district of Prachuap Khiri Khan on Jan 29.
According to Mr Sathit, the woman was first treated with two anti-HIV medications -- lopinavir and ritonavir -- for five days, but failed to recover. Doctors at Rajvithi Hospital then added the flu drug oseltamivir to her prescription, leading to a marked improvement. Her severe pneumonia abated in 8-12 hours, and after 48 hours she tested negative for Covid-19.
She was given the cocktail of drugs for the next 10 days, and no trace of the virus was found in four subsequent tests over 20 days.
"This shows she fully recovered from the disease and can leave the hospital," Mr Sathit said. "She will undergo another physical check-up in a few weeks to find out if she is strong enough to board a plane back home."
Dr Narong Aphikulvanich, deputy director-general of the Department of Medical Services, said the woman was the first patient to receive the "Thai cocktail" of drugs now being administered to three other Chinese people and a Thai patient.
Dr Somsak Akksilp, director-general of the department, said the doctors who treated the Chinese woman were writing a research report for international publication.
The woman was one of two Chinese patients allowed to leave hospital on Tuesday. The other, aged 69, was treated at the Central Chest Institute in Nonthaburi province.
The number of Covid-19 patients in Thailand to make a full recovery is now 17, while the number of confirmed cases remained unchanged at 35 on Tuesday. Since Jan 3, a total of 817 patients have been placed under investigation and 82 of them were hospitalised.
Meanwhile, authorities recommended that people postpone trips to Japan, Singapore and Israel and health organisers put off large meetings and events in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus.
They added that Thailand would not welcome any chartered planes carrying passengers from the cruise ship Westerdam until the end of this month.
Health authorities said that 95 passengers from the cruise ship entered Thailand from Cambodia last Friday before the Thai government imposed an entry ban. Nearly all flew out of the country immediately, but four remained in Thailand -- two Thais and two foreigners. They tested negative for Covid-19 but would be monitored for 14 days, they said.
Everyone in Thailand was advised to wear clean cloth masks to protect themselves, while patients should use surgical masks.
International health experts have also said frequent hand-washing is an effective means of preventing virus transmission.