CHIANG RAI: Thailand has recorded two new coronavirus cases in this northern province, both women who crossed the border illegally and worked at the same entertainment venue -- on the Myanmar side of the border -- as the infected woman feared to be a superspreader in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Rai public health chief Thossathep Boonthong said on Monday the women, 26 and 23, illegally entered Mai Sai district from Tachilek town in Myanmar under cover of darkness on Thursday night.
Both worked at the same entertainment venue in Tachilek as the 29-year-old Covid-positive woman who sneaked across the border last Tuesday, caught a bus to Chiang Mai and visited a shopping mall and a bar while showing symptoms of the disease.
All three went to work in the Myanmar border town last month, but decided to return to Thailand after Myanmar authorities imposed a curfew from midnight to 4am in a bid to contain an outbreak of Covid-19.
Myanmar has been recording an average 1,447 new coronavirus cases each day, with nearly 88,000 infections and 1,887 deaths overall.
Unlike the woman now being treated at a hospital in Chiang Mai, the new cases in Chiang Rai did not go to public places, instead staying in a local hotel and ordering food from delivery apps, Dr Thossathep said.
"We are less worried about the situation in Chiang Rai because they did not go out," he said.
The 26-year-old woman decided to seek a virus test at Bangkok Hospital Chiang Rai in Muang district on Saturday after hearing that her colleague now in Chiang Mai had contracted the disease. Two tests confirmed she was Covid-positive on Sunday, and she was later transferred to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital in Muang district.
Public health officials on Sunday ordered her 23-year-old friend, who was also staying in Mae Sai, to get tested. At around midnight on Monday she was also confirmed to have the virus.
The Chiang Rai public health office has identified four people as being at high risk of contracting the disease, and at least another 22 in a low-risk category.
Dr Thossathep said officials will try to test all of them on Monday.
Chiang Rai governor Prachon Pratsakul said some additional people, including food delivery personnel, could be contacted but the total number at risk would not exceed 30.
The new cases have prompted security authorities to stiffen security measures along the border with Myanmar as they expected more Thais working in Tachilek to return home after Myanmar authorities used the curfew to shut down nightlife.
"Many Thais working across the border are returning with the virus and those who are ill want to come back for treatment in Thailand," the governor said.
The two cases in Chiang Rai were included in the 21 new infections reported by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Monday.