A man in Chiang Mai that worked at a hotel in Tachilek has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number of infected returnees from the Myanmar border town to three in the northern province.
At least 13 local COVID-19 cases have now been identified nationwide in people who worked at the hotel or people who were exposed to them.
Another case involves a woman who was on the same domestic flight as two illegal returnees from Tachilek but it has not yet been confirmed how she contracted the infection.
Chiang Mai health office chief Chatuchai Maneerat and his deputy, Kittiphan Chalong said the latest case reported in Chiang Mai on Friday was a 32-year-old man who had returned to the city from Tachilek on Monday night.
They said the man worked as a DJ at the same entertainment complex as other infected Thais who had crossed back into the country earlier.
The officials did not name the location but the 1G1 Hotel in Tachilek, opposite Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai, was identified earlier by Sopon Iamsirithaworn, director of the Division of Communicable Diseases, as the place where the others were infected.
The man decided to cross illegally into Mae Sai on Monday night after he showed symptoms earlier on Monday, Dr Maneerat and Dr Chalong said at a briefing on Friday.
He stayed overnight in Mae Sai and another night in Muang district of Chiang Rai before travelling to Chiang Mai by motorcycle on Wednesday to stay at a hotel, they said.
He tested positive for the coronavirus at Nakornping Hospital in Chiang Mai on Thursday and is being treated there, they added.
Dr Chalong said five people at the hospital and a 7-Eleven convenience store in Chiang Mai were in contact with the man and all will be ordered to undergo testing. “They are considered a low-risk group,” he said, as the man wore a face mask when he went out.
Two infected women being treated at the same hospital returned from Tachilek on 27th November and arrived in Chiang Mai on Monday.
Thailand has sealed the border with Myanmar, where COVID-19 cases now exceed 95,000, with just over 2,000 deaths. Only trucks are allowed to cross in designated areas, prompting Thais working in Myanmar to sneak back into the country.
Dozens more Thais are believed to work at 1G1, located about 1.5 kilometres east of the checkpoint between the two countries. The complex comprises several buildings including hotels, pubs, karaoke rooms, casinos and other nightspots.
The hotel targets high-end guests who seek “ultimate entertainment” in all forms. Hotel staff who are Thai women are said to be highly popular with the guests. In pre-COVID-19 times, its main clientele were Thai and Chinese gamblers, as well as wealthy Myanmar residents and military men.
The four-storey hotel has 100 rooms, with prices ranging from 1,200 to 10,000 baht per day. A pub, bar and discotheque on the ground floor have a combined capacity of up to 1,000 people.
The second floor has more than 20 VIP karaoke rooms, with rates ranging from 500 to 2,000 baht per hour, said a source familiar with the complex.
The investors in the five-year-old hotel are said to be business people from Thailand, Myanmar and China. A Chinese investor reportedly holds the largest stake in the business.