While the government and the Centre for COVID 19 Situation Administration (CCSA) keep warning the public to “not let their guard down” in order to prevent a second wave of infections, it is becoming evident that state agencies were the ones failing to strictly abide by anti-coronavirus measures.
The Centre for COVID 19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has now taken urgent measures after an Egyptian soldier confirmed to be infected with COVID 19 was found to have visited shopping malls in Rayong province.
Meanwhile, the family of a nine-year-old Thai girl infected with COVID 19 is being investigated after its members were found to not be in embassy accommodation, having stayed in a condominium.
Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha will visit Rayong today while a deputy Director-General of the Department of Disease Control will visit a condominium in Bangkok.
The visitors from Egypt stayed in Rayong en route to a one-day trip to China, where they had military business, then returned to the province on their way home.
All were allowed to enter the country, says the CCSA, as they were defined as aircrew under the conditions set by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand. They were not asked to quarantine because they were coming for less than 14 days but they were required to undergo virus tests.
The general manager of U-Tapao airport, Vice Adm Kitchpol Rienglekjamnong, said only one member of the group, a soldier, sneaked out to visit shopping centres.
Echoing many social media users who spread the hashtag #Covid19 (in Thai), the Drama-addict Facebook page, which has more than 2 million followers, urged authorities to reveal exactly which locations had been visited by the infected man.
The page said people had the right to know in order to protect themselves. The centre had at that stage only published the vaguest information, by identifying Rayong as the province visited.
Mr Pitutecha said later on Monday he would visit Rayong and check locations including Central department store, Laem Thong shopping mall and D Varee Diva Central Rayong Hotel.
Central on Monday announced it had checked and no COVID 19 infected patients visited the mall while the hotel said it had been informed by the Egyptian embassy that the group had passed COVID screening.
CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said officials from Bangkok would join the local staff in the province to check for coronavirus contagion at every place visited by members of the delegation, as well as everyone they came into contact with.
The health scare follows a positive result returned from the lab on Sunday after tests on a swab taken from the 43-year-old soldier. He was one of three new confirmed cases announced by the CCSA on Monday. The other two were Thais returning from working in Kuwait and Bahrain.
The soldier and 30 others, including the crew of their aircraft, departed Egypt on 6th July and went to the United Arab Emirates. They then travelled to Pakistan the next day, Tuesday, and arrived at U-tapao airport in Rayong on Wednesday.
The UAE, Pakistan and Egypt are all hot spots for COVID 19 infections found in Thais returning home from overseas.
The information posted on the CCSA Facebook page said the group stayed at a hotel in the province.
The team left U-tapao for Chengdu, China, last Thursday and returned shortly before midnight the same day, staying at the same hotel.
Dr Visanuyothin said health officials tested them on Friday and there were unconfirmed signs that the soldier might have caught the virus.
The group returned to Egypt on Saturday, the day before the lab confirmed the positive result.
The spokesman said the hotel where the soldier and other members of the delegation stayed was being cleaned. The group visited other places during their stay in the province, including a shopping centre, he said, but he would not name the locations.
“We will examine all the places they visited,” said the CCSA spokesman.
Authorities would also improve the scanning at the airport in Rayong, which was not as strictly enforced as it was at Suvarnabhumi airport. “We will reconsider all practices,” he said.
Officials from the Disease Control Department would be sent to conduct tests on everyone who visited the two premises, Mr Pitutecha said.
On Saturday, the CCSA also reported that a nine-year-old Thai girl who returned home from Sudan with her family had tested positive.
Dr Visanuyothin said on Monday she had been hospitalised but the other four family members had not been quarantined because they were the family of a diplomat. They has reportedly self-isolated at a condominium in Bangkok, which the CCSA did not name.
The mother took everyone to get tested in Sudan last Tuesday before they left home, said Dr Visanuyothin, and all tested negative.
Three days later, they were tested on arrival and the results were negative but more comprehensive tests showed the girl was infected.
Officials were continuing to investigate the case.
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