South African COVID-19 variant cases in Thailand’s South confirmed

The country’s first three COVID-19 cases of the South African variant, or B.1.351, have been found in the Tak Bai district of Thailand’s southern province of Narathiwat, according to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) today (Sunday).

The CCSA announcement followed the COVID-19 Network Investigation Alliance’s (CONI) findings released yesterday, reporting that three samples from Tak Bai, which it received from the Public Health Ministry on May 17th, are of the South African variant.

Using Oxford Nanopore MinION technology and ARTIC Network’s amplicon sequencing, the group said the genomic coverage (the number of unique reads that include a given nucleotide in the reconstructed sequence) of the three samples are 85.01%, 90.11% and 84.93%.

Now with 83 COVID-19 cases, the Tak Bai cluster began with the first case last month, in a man whose wife visited from Malaysia. Restrictive measures, including local quarantine requirements for high-risk groups and limited travel, have been put in place.

Tak Bai faces the Malaysian state of Kelantan in the east. Malaysia detected its first cases of South African variant on April 1st.

Nine villages of Koh Sathon sub-district has been closed off since May 8th and checkpoints have been set up, to prevent travel in and out of the area. Security has also been beefed up to prevent illegal border crossings.


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