6 June 2024

The first Thai taxi driver to be infected with COVID-19 has recalled the stigmatization he experienced and pleaded with members of the public to open their minds and not shun those who have recovered from the disease.

The CCSA made the story of Mr. Thongsook Thongrach public. He contracted the contagion from foreign customers during the early stages of the outbreak in this country.  

He said that he was shocked and cried when he was told by doctors that he was infected with the Wuhan virus, because there was no known cure.

The pathogen was then called the Wuhan virus, because it originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, before the World Health Organization officially named the virus SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes COVID-19.

The Thai taxi driver was admitted to hospital for treatment. He recovered and was eventually discharged.  He said, however, that, after leaving the hospital, he isolated himself at home for 20 additional days, to make sure that he was 100% safe.

Thongsook disclosed that his first encounter with stigmatization was when, half way to their destination, three of his passengers asked him to stop and disembarked, telling him that they didn’t want to become infected.

He admitted that he was saddened, because he was treated as if he were a disease carrier adding, however, that he was not angry with them, because the disease is easily communicable, but wished they were more informed about the virus, so that they would not discriminate against those who have been infected.

The cabbie said that he has met several other passengers who offered him moral support and urged him to fight on. He said he felt encouraged, took good care of his health and, moreover, donated his plasma every 14 days, so that it could be used to treat the other patients.

Disease Control Department deputy director-general, Dr. Thanarak Phlipat, said that, according to medical information from abroad, those who are infected and show minor symptoms can transmit the disease to the other people within the first 8-10 days, hence the use of 14-day quarantine to make sure those in quarantine are safe when they are discharged.

“I wish to inform everyone that patients who have recovered and been discharged from hospital have a very remote chance of infecting other people. So, please give them the chance to pursue their normal lives,” said Dr. Thanarak.