An Egyptian air force officer with COVID-19 who was allowed to visit public places while in Thailand has raised concerns about a “second wave” of infection.
The man was among three new cases reported Monday, including returnees from Bahrain and Kuwait. No domestic transmissions of the coronavirus have been detected for 49 days.
According to Taweesilp Wissanuyothin of the Disease Control Department, the 48-year-old Egyptian’s test results came back positive on Sunday, one day after he left “quarantine” in Rayong province.
Quarantine in this case didn’t seem to mean much. Taweesilp said the man along with other members of his crew had left their hotel to visit “public places” such as a nearby shopping mall.
“We’re investigating all the places they have been such as shopping malls. If anyone is suspicious that they might be infected with COVID-19, they should contact our hotline 1422 immediately,” Taweesilp said.
A chorus of complaints about the government’s handling of the visiting military team spread online today after Taweesilp’s announcement.
Egypt as of Monday has had more than 82,000 infections and 3,800 deaths related to COVID-19 since February. Last month, 38 Thai expats there were not allowed to fly home on a chartered flight because they had contracted the virus.
The man, who was unidentified, flew into the U-Tapao airfield from Cairo by way of the U.A.E and Pakistan on Wednesday with a military crew. On Thursday, they took a military flight to Chengdu, China, and returned to Rayong the same day.
Prior to leaving Saturday, the officer visited a Rayong shopping center.
That despite rules laid out by health officials that all short-term visitors must test negative twice before being let in, with agents of foreign governments required to pay for liaison officers to monitor them.
The officer and his 31 crew members were tested on arrival but for some reason the results were not available until five days later.
Taweesilp said during Monday’s daily briefing that health officials would have to find stricter ways to prevent COVID-19.
“We’ve discussed this issue. Even though they are military crew that are allowed to enter the country under our conditions, we need to rethink stricter preventive measures,” he said, noting that they were investigating what happened. The hotel where the crew stayed is being checked as well.
Since July 1, some non-Thais have been allowed to enter the kingdom under exemptions which include military aircraft and flight crew whose jobs “require travel into the kingdom with a specified date and time of return.”