The Omicron variant has been detected in two foreigners visiting Chiang Mai who tested positive for COVID-19, with confirmation from more lab tests expected in two days.
The tourists were German and British nationals who arrived in the country under the quarantine-free programme, Test & Go, through Suvarnabhumi airport.
Chiang Mai governor Prajon Pratsakul said the German visitor, 22, passed an RT-PCR test after arriving in Bangkok on 17th December and travelled to the northern province on Thai Lion Air flight SL510 on 20th December.
He stayed overnight at a condominium room in Chang Klan area of Muang district and travelled to Mae Wang district for a jungle trip on 21st December. He felt exhausted upon his return, and a COVID-19 test at Bangkok Hospital Chiang Mai in Muang district the following day was positive.
His sample was sent to a lab at the Medical Sciences Centre in the province and the result “potentially matched the B.1.1.529 Omicron strain”, according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Control 1 based in Chiang Mai.
The governor said 18 people were deemed a high-risk group due to close contact with him, including 13 passengers who sat near his seat on the plane.
Four passengers on the same flight and a taxi driver tested negative, and health authorities were waiting for the test results of the eight others, he added.
The other case, a 64-year-old British tourist, 64, the man arrived in Bangkok on 18th December and passed an RT-PRC test.
He came to Chiang Mai the next day on THAI Smile flight WE110 and stayed at a rented house in San Sai district. On 24th December, he took an antigen test and the result came out positive, according to the governor.
The British national then visited Doi Saket Hospital for an RT-PCR test and was admitted there when the positive result was confirmed.
The governor said testing on two friends came out negative and authorities were awaiting test results on another friend. They were searching for a number of passengers who sat near him on the plane and one taxi driver.
Saowanee Wiboonsanti, director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Control 1, said the initial tests indicated both the German and British nationals had contracted the Omicron variant of the virus.
Waranyu Chamnongprasart, the deputy provincial public health chief, said the test samples of the two had been sent to a lab of the Department of Medical Services in Bangkok for confirmation and the results were expected by Tuesday.
Dr Wiboonsanti said people in the high-risk group contacted by health authorities had been notified to cancel all activities, undergo RT-PCR testing and stay at home for 14 days.
Chiang Mai reported 57 more infections on Sunday, bringing its total since the third outbreak began in April to 28,170.