Test shows migrant worker may have been Covid risk

Test shows migrant worker may have been Covid risk

A Myanmar woman and her son clean their hands with sanitiser gel at the Covid-19 screening station at the Thai-Myanmar border checkpoint in Tak's Mae Sot district.  (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
A Myanmar woman and her son clean their hands with sanitiser gel at the Covid-19 screening station at the Thai-Myanmar border checkpoint in Tak's Mae Sot district.  (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Local health officials in the southern province of Phatthalung are waiting for the result of another test which will determine if a detained Myanmar worker could have posed a Covid-19 risk while in Thailand.

Dr Paisan Kua-arun, the provincial public health official, said an initial test showed dead virus fragments in the migrant worker's body and authorities are waiting for the result of a second test by the Department of Medical Sciences which is expected on Sunday.

The migrant worker was among 10 Myanmar nationals detained near a checkpoint on Phetkasem Road on Oct 27 in Phatthalung's Pa Bon district. He had a high fever and an initial test found traces of the virus in his system.

The group was travelling from Songkhla's Hat Yai to Surat Thani when they were detained in Phatthalung. They claimed they had stayed in Songkhla for more than two months and were on their way to Surat Thani for new jobs.

According to Dr Paisan, a total of 16 people, including police officers have been identified as close contacts of the migrant worker and have all been put into isolation and are being closely monitored. He said health officials are well-prepared to handle the situation if any results come back positive.

Deputy Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha said on Friday Thailand is well-prepared for a second wave and the Department of Disease Control is providing training to health officials on how to investigate an outbreak.

He pointed out that maintaining zero local infections is unrealistic following the easing of the lockdown to allow foreign visitors, in addition to illegal cross-border travel, and noted that a quick investigation to identify the source of the illness and contact tracing would be crucial to prevent an outbreak.

Dr Yong Poovorawan, head of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at the Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University, said Thailand's handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been effective though he expressed concern over the decreased use of the "Thai Chana" application which facilitates more efficient contact tracing.

Meanwhile, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, acting director-general of the Department of Disease Control,  moved to reassure the public that both Thais and foreign nationals are required to observe the same strict screening measures on arrival in the country.

Under the current measures, foreign nationals are required to have a Covid-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before departure, have purchased Covid-19-specific health insurance, and signed a letter of consent agreeing to comply with government measures including the mandatory period of quarantine.

Those who test positive in quarantine will be sent to a contracted hospital, and criteria for discharge among those with initially severe symptoms include improved chest X-rays, a body temperature below 37.8 degrees for 24 consecutive hours and a respiration rate of under 20 breaths per minute.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration reported 12 new cases, all among quarantined arrivals from Ethiopia, India, Jordan, Myanmar, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, raising the total to 3,775.

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