ASQ under investigation after Samui Covid case
The Department of Disease Control has begun urgently investigating whether a French woman patient who tested positive for Covid-19 was allowed to pass on the infection to two others staying in the same quarantine facility as her.
The department on Tuesday revealed it is testing to see if there is a match between the strains contracted by the 57-year-old French native and those found in an Asian and a European male shortly afterwards at the alternative state quarantine facility (ASQ) at Siam Mandarina Hotel in Samut Prakan province.
The French national left the ASQ facility at the Siam Mandarina Hotel on Oct 15 and returned to her home on Koh Samui, where she developed a fever on Oct 17.
Laboratory tests confirmed her infection three days later.
The two infected male patients tested positive on Oct 15 and Oct 19 respectively. One of them had stayed in the next room to hers.
"Fortunately, all of them are now in the hospital at the same time and that can help us examine the virus genetics. The results will help us come closer to answering how the French lady became infected with the disease. We need a few days to carry out the genetic testing," Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, acting chief of the Department of Disease Control (DDC) told media on Tuesday.
Dr Opas said the fitness room where the strain of novel coronavirus had been detected was not the place of transmission as the French patient had not used it during her stay.
The department announced on Tuesday that the Siam Mandarina Hotel would no longer be used to house returnees, although those currently in quarantine there would complete their 14-day term and then be asked to self-isolate at home for a further seven days.
Dr Tanarak Plipat, the department's deputy chief, said that the case has shown that the hotel could not follow the department's guidelines.
"Arrivals from high-risk countries must stay in their room only. They should not have been allowed for outside activity," he said.
Siam Mandarina Hotel has served as a government ASQ since June with eight people, including the two recent male cases, having tested positive for Covid-19 during the period.
Dr Tanarak said all 67 staff at the hotel had tested negative following the case of the French woman.
There have also already been 126 tests carried out on others who may have come into contact with her after her release, and all of those tests had come back negative too, he added.