SURAT THANI: Two British nationals and one Belgian who recently arrived on Koh Samui were found to be infected with the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus, the provincial health office said on Monday.
They were the first Omicron cases detected in Surat Thani, the province that includes the resort island.
The first patient was a British woman, 54, who arrived at Samui airport about 1.30pm on Wednesday on Bangkok Airways flight PG5125 from the United Kingdom via Singapore and Suvarnabhumi airport.
She travelled with her husband, but he tested negative.
Another was a 55-year-old man from Belgium on flight PG5171 from Suvarnabhumi, which landed on the island about 6.40pm on Thursday. He travelled to Koh Samui from the United Arab Emirates via Singapore and Bangkok.
The third case was a British national, 56, who started his journey with his wife in the United Kingdom and arrived on Samui on flight PG962 from Singapore about 8.30pm on Thursday.
Surat Thani public health chief Jirachart Ruangwacharin said they entered Thailand under the quarantine-free programme, Test and Go, that requires foreign visitors to stay overnight at a designated hotel while awaiting RT-PCR test results for the coronavirus.
After test results for the three returned positive for Covid-19, they were sent for treatment at Samui Hospital.
Dr Jirachart said the patients' samples were then sent to labs at the Department of Medical Sciences in Bangkok for genome sequencing. The results on Sunday confirmed the new variant.
"The three had only mild symptoms on the day they arrived," he said.
Dr Jirachart said health authorities had tested 49 passengers and crew who shared the same Samui-bound flights with the three patients, and all their initial test results were negative.
Another eight people at the hotels where they stayed upon arrival also tested negative, he added.
They will be tested for the coronavirus again in the next seven days.
People on the same flights and at the same hotels were considered a high-risk group due to their close contact with the patients.