Chiang Mai, Thailand-
Public Health officials continue to look into a case of Covid-19 found in Chiang Mai late last week while they warned today that strict legal charges may be applied to the patient if she was indeed found to have entered the country against the law and ignore precautions such as quarantine and self isolation.
Get caught up on the story so far first below:
The patient, a 29-year-old Thai woman, who has not yet been named, remains at the Nakhon Ping hospital in Chiang Mai in isolation. She reportedly is still symptomatic and has lost her sense of smell, has a fever, digestive problems and other symptoms.
Officials have so far tested 102 people and have identified a total of 326 and counting contacts of the woman who went to a karaoke bar, the movies, a shopping mall and a restaurant. All those venues have now either been closed temporarily or entirely as the premises are cleaned and disinfected and as officials work on contact tracing, a key component of the Thai strategy. The Pattaya News notes that officials have so far been transparent and clearly shown the woman’s movements as well as demonstrated excellent ability to contact trace using a variety of tools. High risk contacts of the woman remain in quarantine.
So far, none of the contacts have tested positive for Covid-19 and officials have asked the public not to panic. Law enforcement from Chiang Mai went and visited local pubs and venues last night, November 28th, to ensure proper procedures were being followed with mask wearing, social distancing and proper check in. All reportedly were.
Meanwhile, Opas Kankawinpong, acting chief of the Department of Disease Control, said the woman’s movements had been perfectly clear and that she had recently been in Myanmar. She is believed to have entered illegally through a land border on November 24 in the Mae Sai district and then paid for a van and later a public bus to get to Chiang Mai. She had been in Myanmar for a month, since October 24, and is believed to have also entered the country illegally.
Dr. Opas stated that officials would be looking at all aspects of the law in regards to the woman’s actions which set the health of the public at risk and, in his words, showed disregard for the general public. Social media comments online largely agreed with the doctor, with many calling for a public identification of the woman. Generally, Covid-19 patients are not named for their privacy.
Chiang Rai governor Prajol Pratsakul stated that a full investigation was being conducted into how exactly the woman entered the country and that border patrol units were being increased and fortified to protect the border with Myanmar, where Covid-19 has laid a significant foothold. He also stated that residents around border areas should immediately report any strangers or people they suspect of illegally crossing the border to protect the country and their community.
Photos: Central Festival Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Provincial Health Department