137 Covid cases linked to African gem trader

137 Covid cases linked to African gem trader

Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokesperson for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, elaborates on a new Covid-19 cluster linked to the gem business in Bangkok and Chanthaburi, at Government House in Bangkok on Wednesday. (Screenshot)
Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokesperson for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, elaborates on a new Covid-19 cluster linked to the gem business in Bangkok and Chanthaburi, at Government House in Bangkok on Wednesday. (Screenshot)

The government reported a Covid-19 cluster of 137 cases was traced back to an African gem trader who travelled between Chanthaburi and Bang Rak district of Bangkok and often attended religious ceremonies.

Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokesperson for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said on Wednesday that the cluster began with the trader's 21-year-old pregnant wife, like him a native of Guinea.  

The woman had been asymptomatic during her pregnancy and prenatal care, but developed a fever shortly before her caesarian section on May 2 and tested positive for Covid-19.  

Her 54-year-old husband was then tested and diagnosed with the disease on May 4.

"The husband is a gem trader who visited Bang Rak area of Bangkok, conducted Islamic prayers five times a day and attended Muslim ceremonies where crowds gathered," Dr Apisamai said.

Active case finding was conducted on 992 people close to the couple from May 5 to 9, and 137 tested positive for Covid-19 -- an infection rate of 13.81%.

The Guineans were expatriates and the strain of Covid-19 found in the cluster was not the South African variant, Dr Apisamai said.

According to the assistant spokeswoman, authorities in Chanthaburi and Bangkok were continuing mass testing. Gem trade venues in Chanthaburi were closed from May 7 to 20 for disinfection. She advised all those who had recently visited a gem market in either province to conduct self-quarantine.

The Islamic spiritual leader in Thailand had suspended daily prayers at mosques in six dark-red provinces of maximum and strict Covid-19 control, Dr Apisamai said.


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