COVID-19 among returnees from Thachilek is the highly infectious G-strain

COVID-19 carried by returnees from Myanmar’s Thachilek township has been identified as the G strain of the virus, which is easily transmitted and causes more severe symptoms than other strains, said Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of Disease Control Department, today (Saturday).

49 of the hundreds of people returning from Myanmar have tested positive for COVID-19 and they are now scattered across seven provinces; 37 in Chiang Rai, 5 in Chiang Mai, 3 in Bangkok and 1 each in Phayao, Phichit, Ratchaburi and Sing Buri.

The 49 include nine cases among 107 who returned to Mae Sai district, of Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Rai, through orderly repatriation arranged by Thai and Myanmar officials under the Thai-Myanmar Border Committee framework.

Dr. Opas said that the G-strain, which was originally identified in India, is widespread in Myanmar but is now contained to limited areas in Thailand, adding that 80% of COVID-19 cases globally are of the G-strain.

About 400 Thais remain stranded in Thachilek, waiting to return via the Mae Sai border checkpoint. Most had illegally crossed into Myanmar to work in entertainment and gambling venues in Thachilek.

According to Myanmar law, they will be taken to court to pay fines for illegal entry before they can be repatriated.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sophon Iamsirithavorn, director of the Communicable Diseases Division of Thailand’s Disease Control Department, said that 12 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Thailand today.

They include seven arriving from Bahrain and one each from Germany, Sweden UK, India and Kuwait.

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