Top doctor downplays virus risk from barbershop case

Top doctor downplays virus risk from barbershop case

A barbershop in Bangkok's Pracha Chuen area has been closed and eight staff quarantined as a precaution after a 72-year-old customer tested positive for Covid-19, a senior health official said on Friday.

Luckily, no other customers were there at the same time, and the man as well as all the staff observed health protocols, Dr Sopon Iamsirithaworn, director of the Disease Control Department's Bureau of General Communicable Diseases, said. The proprietor decided to shut down and his employers went into self-isolation to be on the safe side, he added.

According to Dr Sopon, the staff were unlikely to have contracted the disease as they all wore masks while working.

"In this case only two or three people in the elderly patient's family were considered high risk and were waiting for test results," he said.

Dr Sopon said health officials are still trying to determine from whom or where the patient contracted the virus. He had a history of hospital visits before he was found to be infected.

The man was one of three confirmed Covid-19 cases announced on Thursday.

Another was a 42-year-old German who went to a shopping mall in Chaiyaphum province and tested positive after returning to Bangkok. The third case was a 25-year-old student who tested positive at a government quarantine facility after returning from the Philippines.

Dr Sopon said the wife and children of the German patient tested negative for the virus, but health authorities in Chaiyaphum will conduct screenings in the community where the 42-year-old German lives.

The director yesterday also expressed concern that the estimated number of people wearing face masks dropped to 70% this month, compared with 90% in April. He said wearing face masks, practising social distancing and frequent hand washing can prevent transmission of viruses.

Thanks to personal hygiene during the Covid-19 outbreak, the number of respiratory illnesses decreased sharply, he said. The number of respiratory illnesses in January was 52,272, but the number dropped to 1,952 in April and 411 this month.

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