Thailand detects first Omicron Covid case

Thailand detects first Omicron Covid case

An airport staff member talks to a traveller at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Nov 15 2021. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
An airport staff member talks to a traveller at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Nov 15 2021. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Thailand has detected its first case of Omicron.

The coronavirus variant was found in an American businessman of Thai descent who arrived in the country from Spain, senior Public Health Ministry officials said on Monday.

Department of Medical Sciences director-general Supakit Sirilak said the new variant was detected in an RT-PCR test conducted when the 35-year-old man arrived in Thailand.

Department of Disease Control chief Opas Karnkawinpong added the businessman was a US citizen  who had lived in Spain for one year before he arrived in Thailand.

He was on Emirates Airline flight EK372 from Dubai to Suvarnabhumi Airport and showed no symptoms.

It was unclear which day he entered Thailand as Dr Opas said he arrived on Nov 29 but a chart presented by the ministry during his press briefing showed Nov 30.

The man underwent RT-PCR testing in Spain on Nov 28 before he left for Thailand via the United Arab Emirates, Dr Opas added. He had received one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which usually requires only a single shot.

Following the man's positive RT-PCR test, a more detailed test was conducted at the Department of Medical Sciences on Friday. He was being treated at a hospital, Dr Opas said.

Dr Supakit said "the chance that the infection is the Omicron variant is 99.92%".  

He urged the government not to replace RT-PCR testing with rapid antigen testing, and expected more cases would be detected. "If there is one case, we believe there will be the second and third cases," he said.

The ministry said the patient had been in contact with two airport staff and 17 hotel staff members.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha called for calm from the public as he remained confident in the screening process for visitors entering the country and the ability of the kingdom’s health system to fight the pandemic, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said.

The prime minister and health experts were working closely to monitor the situation, the spokesman added.

Thailand is the 47th country to detect the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. \

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