RT-PCR tests on errant Israeli negative, but further tests underway

RT-PCR tests on errant Israeli negative, but further tests underway

Facing charge of fleeing quarantine hotel

Israeli tourist Ohan Baruch, left, surrenders to police at a restaurant on Koh Samui in Surat Thani on Wednesday. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)
Israeli tourist Ohan Baruch, left, surrenders to police at a restaurant on Koh Samui in Surat Thani on Wednesday. (Photo: Supapong Chaolan)

SURAT THANI: RT-PCR tests on an Israeli tourist who left his quarantine hotel in Bangkok and went to Koh Samui have returned negative for Covid-19, but samples have been sent for further testing in a laboratory.

Officials from the Medical Sciences Department still suspect he is infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Surat Thani public health chief Jeerachart Ruengwatcharin said on Thursday that two RT-PCR tests had been made on swabs from Ohad Baruch, 29 - at Bangkok Hospital Samui and Koh Samui Hospital - and both tests came back negative.

When the tests were done, the results were not immediately disclosed. However, the result of the test at Koh Samui Hospital was released on Wednesday night.

"The genetic material of Sars-Cov-2 was not detected," the report from Koh Samui Hositpal said.

Dr Jeerachart said the visitor was ordered into quarantine at Koh Samui Hospital for 10 days.

Mr Baruch arrived in Bangkok on Dec 17 and left a hotel in Sukhumvit area the next day without waiting for his RT-PCR test result. Police began a search for him after the test in Bangkok returned positive.

He went first to Pattaya and then travelled south to Koh Samui, where he surrendered to Bor Phut police early Wednesday afternoon. He was taken to Koh Samui Hospital.

Although the RT-PCR tests at the two hospitals on the holiday island were both negative,  Department of Medical Sciences officials were not satisfied.

They ordered Koh Samui Hospital to send his samples for further tests at the department's laboratory in Muang district on the mainland of Surat Thani. They suspected he was infected with the Omicron variant.

Department director-general Supakit Sirilak said the results were expected on Thursday afternoon.

Dr Supakit said genome sequencing of a sample from Mr Baruch on Saturday showed the Omicron variant. The two tests on Koh Samui did not find the new variant, possibly because of the low amount of Omicron present, he said.

Mr Baruch is now wanted on an arrest warrant obtained by Thong Lor police station 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.

Koh Samui district chief Theerapong Chuaychoo said Mr Baruch would be taken to Thong Lor police station after completing hospitalisation, when he would be formally informed of the charge.

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