PHUKET: A Hungarian tourist who died of Covid-19 had earlier withheld details of his visits to entertainment areas, which resulted in 112 medical staff being suspended from work and placed in quarantine.
Dr Chalermpong Sukhonthapol, director of Vachira Phuket Hospital, revealed the details at a meeting of provincial officials in charge of combating the disease on Monday.
He said the Hungarian man was involved in a road accident on March 25. He was first treated at Chalong Hospital and then transferred to Vachira Phuket Hospital.
The patient had numbness and weakness in all limbs. He could talk, but did not mention his activities had put him at risk of Covid-19 infection though being asked, Dr Chalermpong said.
At Vachira Phuket Hospital he was operated on immediately for a broken neck and snapped spinal nerve. After surgery he regained consciousness and could talk well. He received good care from doctors and nurses, the director said.
On March 29 he was visited at the hospital by a friend from Soi Bangla, an entertainment area in tambon Patong. The street is an epicentre of Covid-19 transmission in Phuket.
Hospital staff became concerned and questioned the patient. It turned out the Hungarian man had visited Soi Bangla and stayed in the area for two weeks. He had also arrived from Malaysia.
Now aware of the infection risk, the hospital conducted a test and the tourist was found to be carrying the coronavirus.
The patient subsequently developed a high fever and breathing difficulties. Last Thursday he had a bloodstream infection, and died early on Friday morning.
"The death of the Hungarian tourist is a shock because he did not report the Covid-19 infection risk in the first place. One hundred and twelve medical personnel who had done their best to save were put at risk because of their contact with him," Dr Chalermpong said.
He said 104 of them were deemed at high risk, and the eight others at low risk. The high-risk staff were being held at quarantine facilities for 14 days, and the others were in home quarantine. Ninety-four had so far tested negative for the disease, and 18 were awaiting test results.
"I am asking people and tourists to be clear about their history. Please do not conceal anything, as in this case, which has taken out about 100 medical personnel," Dr Chalermpong said.