11 July 2024

Health authorities expressed confidence today that the Covid-19 situation in the northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are under control despite the recent return of 10 Thais from neighbouring Myanmar who tested positive.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, meanwhile, played down fears that there could be a second wave of the pandemic.
However, a medical expert warned that the country needs to be put on high alert for a potential second wave of the pandemic following what happened in the two provinces.

Speaking at a press conference, Dr Kiatiphume Wongrajit, the permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, said local health officials had all necessary information regarding the returnees’ whereabouts and timelines of their movement.

The health officials also have a list of the 699 people with whom they have come into contact, he said. Dr Kitiphume also allayed fears that there could be a spread of the virus by the returnees.

He said the 10 patients who illegally crossed back to Thailand from the border town of Tachilek in Myanmar are showing mild symptoms and are now being quarantined.

Public Health Minister Anutin said the cases in the north are not signaling a potential second wave of the pandemic and gave an assurance that health authorities are having the situation under control.

However, Associate Professor Dr. Thira Woratanarat, of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, expressed concerns that the infected returnees could pose a high risk of a second wave.

Dr. Thira said some of the illegal returnees travelled to several places, visited entertainment venues and shared cigarettes and drinks with friends, activities which risk transmission of the disease. He urged the public not to lower their guard.

Meanwhile, Chiang Rai Governnor Prachon Pratsakul dismissed speculation that a lockdown of the province was being considered. He said he was confident that local authorities are able to deal with the situation without having to resort to such drastic measure.