Missing Covid-infected tourist surrenders on Koh Samui

Missing Covid-infected tourist surrenders on Koh Samui

The infected 29-year-old Israeli tourist, seated left, who left his Bangkok hotel without waiting for his Covid-19 test result, surrenders to police at a restaurant on Koh Samui in Surat Thani on Wednesday. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)
The infected 29-year-old Israeli tourist, seated left, who left his Bangkok hotel without waiting for his Covid-19 test result, surrenders to police at a restaurant on Koh Samui in Surat Thani on Wednesday. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)

An Israeli tourist who sparked a manhunt by leaving his Bangkok hotel without waiting for his Covid-19 test result, which proved positive, surrendered to police on Koh Samui on Wednesday afternoon.

He initially headed to Pattaya, but later went south to the holiday island.

Ohad Baruch, 29, turned himself in shortly after noon.

Samui district chief Theerapong Chuaychoo, senior police and health officials went to Samui Piar Bangrak restaurant in tambon Bo Phud to collect Mr Baruch around 12.30pm.

He earlier contacted authorities saying he wanted to surrender.

After talks, he was taken to Koh Samui Hospital by ambulance for Covid-19 testing. Health volunteers escorted him.

Niwet Saksri, assistant chief of Koh Samui public health office, said they had begun searching for the tourist on Wednesday morning after being advised he had travelled to the island.

They found him at a local restaurant and he had coordinated the man's surrender.

Deputy police spokesman Pol Col Krissana Pattanacharoen said on Wednesday afternoon that police had applied for a court warrant for the man's arrest.

According to media reports, Tourist Police had notified Bangkok police that the tourist had contacted his embassy and said he would surrender to police on Koh Samui.

Pol Maj Gen Jirasan Kaewsaeng-ek, spokesman to the Metropolitan Police Bureau said the test result showed the man was infected with the Delta variant, not Omicron.

The man arrived in Thailand in the early hours of Dec 17 and was quarantined at a hotel in Sukhumvit area while awaiting his RT PCR Covid-19 test result.

However, he left the hotel the next day without waiting for the result and reportedly took a taxi to Pattaya around 2pm. About the same time, the hotel was informed that the man's test was positive for the coronavirus. Hotel staff reported his absence to Thong Lor police.

A source said the tourist arrived in Pattaya and tried to check in at a hotel, but failed to produce his passport and the hotel rejected him.

Thai media reported that the man had travelled to Pattaya from Bangkok in a taxi driven by Nit Kaosaeng, from in front of the Emporium department store, and paid 2,500 baht for the trip.

Thai media named the Israeli tourist as "Mr Ohad".

Reports said he had returned to Bangkok on Dec 19 and had rented a van to the southern provinces. There was a photo of him in Chumphon on Monday morning before he went to Koh Samui of Surat Thani in the afternoon of that day, according to the reports.

Pol Lt Gen Archayon Kraithong, deputy commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, was  heading the team tracing the missing tourist.

The police team checked his mobile phone use record around 10.30pm on Dec 18 and found that he turned off his phone.

Thong Lor police have asked the Department of Disease Control to file a complaint against the tourist for failing to abide by disease control measures in violation of the emergency decree. The offence carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and/or fine of 40,000 baht.

He also faces a charge of being a foreign national who failed to stay in a place he was permitted to stay while in the country. The offence carries a fine of up to 5,000 baht.

Police believe some Thais might have helped the missing man.

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