11 July 2024

Thai geneticists have refuted conjecture that asymptomatic coronavirus carriers from Italy may have been responsible for infecting boxing fans and visitors to a Thonglor area pub.

According to Dr. Yong Pooworavan, a well-known virologist attached to the faculty of medical science at Chulalongkorn University, the scientists conducted genetic sequencing of several COVID-19 samples from patients and found more than 30 varieties, including those from Wuhan, Italy, Singapore and Indonesia.

The findings show that the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Thailand in January was caused by the L, or Leucine strain, from the Chinese city of Wuhan, whereas the widespread infections in March, originating in the Lumpini boxing stadium and a Thonglor area pub in Bangkok, were caused by the S or Serine strain of the novel coronavirus.

He said that it is untrue that the strain from Italy, which was detected in Thailand, is more dangerous than that from Wuhan, but the boxing cluster affected mostly high-risk people, which made it look as if the virus is more dangerous.

The genetic sequencing, said Dr Yong, is useful in tracking the origin of the infections.

Meanwhile, the Department of Medical Science has warned people who withhold information about high-risk behaviour from medical professionals, that they will face legal action and be liable to a maximum 6 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of 10,000 baht.

It is reported that about 80 medics have contracted the virus from asymptomatic patients who had lied about returning from high-risk countries or visiting entertainment venues.