11 July 2024

Thailand’s Public Health Ministry said today (Friday) that there is no current Thai variant of the coronavirus, which was previously reported to have been detected in the UK by Public Health England (PHE).

Director-General of the Disease Control Department, Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong, announced that the C.36.3 variant, which reportedly came from Thailand, actually came from an Egyptian man, who travelled to Hong Kong and then to Bangkok on January 25th. He entered alternative state quarantine at Novotel Samut Prakan the following day.

After he was tested for COVID-19 on his arrival at Suvarnabhumi airport, however, he was found to be infected with the C.36.3 variant and was sent to hospital for treatment on January 29th.

His second COVID-19 test on February 16th was negative and he immediately travelled back to Egypt. So far, there are no patients who have contracted this specific variant in Thailand.

Regarding the variant being “first detected in a sequence from Thailand ex Egypt”, Dr. Opart said that it should not be referred to as the “Thai variant”, as it was an imported case. An investigation is, however, still underway.

Meanwhile, Professor Dr. Thiravat Hemachudha, chief of the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre of Chulalongkorn University, said that the so-called “Thai variant”, is a variant “of interest” and not a variant “of concern”, unlike the UK, Indian and South African strains.

His comment was in response to PHE’s report that 109 cases of the new variant, dubbed the “Thai variant” by UK mass media, have been found in the UK.

“The C.36.3 variant was first detected in Thailand, in cases who had travelled from Egypt,” the PHE report said, adding that “there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective.”

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha also noted that COVID-19 has many variants, so the public should not worry, as they can be treated.