Ratsadon leader falls victim to virus while in prison

Ratsadon leader falls victim to virus while in prison

Chukiat Sangwong, a Ratsadon protest leader detained at Bangkok Remand Prison, has tested positive for Covid-19, putting 35 inmates and prison officials at risk of the disease, said the Corrections Department.

Thawatchai Chaiwat, the department spokesman, said yesterday a swab was taken from Mr Chukiat -- known as "Justin" for his penchant for the signature style of American singer Justin Timberlake -- and sent for a lab test at the Medical Correctional Institution on Friday.

The result came back positive yesterday.

Mr Chukiat was taken to the institution for treatment. At least 33 people -- 26 of them detainees -- who came into contact with Mr Chukiat were isolated.

The prison is setting up a field hospital on its premises to accommodate those infected but only mildly sick or asymptomatic. "The department has put in place stringent health screening measures in prisons. Families and relatives of the inmates and detainees should rest assured," he said.

The confirmed case of Mr Chukiat has sparked concerns about a new Covid-19 cluster at Bangkok Remand Prison that may also involve the Criminal Court.

The news first came from Sureerat Chiwarak, the mother of protest co-leader Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak. She said she had been told by a corrections official that Mr Chukiat had Covid.

Mr Parit was in the same cell as Mr Chukiat, as were two other key protesters -- Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka Ammy The Bottom Blues, and Jatupat "Pai Dao Din" Boontararaksa.

Ms Sureerat said she was worried about her son. Mr Parit had been on a hunger strike since March 15 and his health has recently deteriorated. He has also had lung problems, she said.

Mr Parit is one of 22 key protest figures who face charges, including lese majeste, linked to an anti-government rally at Sanam Luang on Sept 19 and 20 last year.

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