Doctor warns of possible second wave of COVID-19 spread by illegal returnees
Associate Professor Dr. Thira Woratanarat, of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, said today that infected illegal Thai returnees, from Myanmar’s Thachilek township, pose a high risk of a second wave of infections in Thailand and urged officials to be especially vigilant over for the next two weeks.
He also urged the public not to lower their guard, because it is impossible to know whether any of the illegal returnees are infected until they visit doctors with symptoms.
Dr. Thira said some of the illegal returnees travelled to several places, visited entertainment venues and shared cigarettes and drinks with their friends, activities which risk transmission of the disease.
Forty-eight Thai women working at a hotel in Myanmar’s Thachilek border township want to return to Thailand, but through the Second Friendship Bridge border checkpoint, said Dr. Tossathep Boonthong, provincial health chief of Chiang Rai province, today (Thursday).
Thai officials have coordinated with their Myanmar counterparts, through the Thai-Myanmar Border Committee, to facilitate the orderly return to Thailand of the Thai workers after several of them snuck across the border, ten of whom were infected with COVID-19, causing alarm among Thai health officials that some of them could become “super spreaders”.
Dr. Tossathep said that the returnees will not face any charges for crossing borders illegally, but they will be properly screened and placed in local quarantine for 14 days after their return.
According to management of the 1G1 Hotel in Thachilek, about 180 Thai women worked at the hotel, mostly in the karaoke bar.
Two Royal mobile COVID-19 testing labs have been deployed in Chiang Rai. One is at the Second Friendship Bridge and the other in Baan Pa Moed in Mae Sai district, near a hotel in which many illegal Thai returnees take temporary refuge, before travelling further inland. Each lab can test up to 300 people a day.
Meanwhile, troop reinforcements from the Pa Muang Task Force have been deployed along the natural borderline with Myanmar, to stem the flow of illegal migrants looking for work in Thailand or escaping the COVID-19 outbreak in Thachilek.
The CCSA, meanwhile, recorded 13 new COVID-19 cases in Thailand, including six Thais who snuck across the natural border from Thachilek.
The seven other new cases are an Indian from India, a Thai woman returning from the US and another arriving from Mexico, an Egyptian woman arriving from Sweden, a Pakistani from Pakistan and two Thai women arriving from the Netherlands.
Cumulative infections in Thailand, to date, are 4,039, with 3,832 recoveries.