Medics at risk after tourist dies

Medics at risk after tourist dies

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 members 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 yesterday.

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 reported numbness and weakness in his limbs. He could talk, but did not mention the activities which had put him at risk of Covid-19 infection, said Dr Chalermpong.

At Vachira Phuket Hospital, he was operated on immediately for a broken neck and snapped spinal nerve. After surgery he regained consciousness and was able to speak. He received good care, the director said.

On March 29 the man was visited at the hospital by a friend from Soi Bangla, an entertainment area in tambon Patong. The street is the epicentre of coronavirus 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 infected with coronavirus.

The patient subsequently developed a high fever and breathing difficulties. Last Thursday he developed a blood 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 the man were put at risk because of their contact with him," Dr Chalermpong said.

He said 104 were deemed high risk. The high-risk staff are being held at quarantine facilities for 14 days, and the others were under home quarantine. Ninety-four have so far tested negative, and 18 are awaiting test results.

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