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Escaped Israeli tested positive for Omicron, negative for Covid-19

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Israeli tourist who escaped may or may not have Covid-19. (via Thairath)

He’s positive… he’s negative… he’s positive? Test results have varied for the 29 year old escaped Israeli traveller who fled his hotel before receiving his results from the mandatory RT-PCR Covid-19 test upon arrival. Conflicting reports say Ohan Baruch tested positive for the Omicron variant and that in Samui he tested negative for Covid-19. Either way, the Israeli tourist, who travelled to Bangkok, Pattaya, Chumphon, and Koh Samui before turning himself in, could face deportation and even be blacklisted from Thailand, according to the Public Health Minister.

The traveller reportedly checked in at a hotel off Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road after arriving in Thailand late December 17 but left for Pattaya the next afternoon before getting his results back for an RT-PCR test. When results were in, he was positive for Covid-19 but was long gone from his hotel. The positive specimen was sent to the lab for a deeper investigation which turned up what was reported to be a small amount of the Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, after a movie-style chase that saw authorities tracking his cell phone until it went dark in Pattaya at 10:30 pm on the 19th then picking up his trail after he was caught on film in Chumphon, the Israeli tourist, who flouted the laws and safety of thousands by sneaking out of his quarantine while waiting for Covid-19 test results, called the Israeli Embassy from Koh Samui to turn himself in.

The embassy contacted the Tourist Police who contacted Bangkok and Samui police and a meeting was arranged at a restaurant to take the fugitive in. Now in custody, Baruch was tested again for Covid-19 at Bangkok Hospital Samui and at Koh Samui Hospital. Surprisingly, the tests from both hospitals turned out negative.

The exact time the two tests were administered was not revealed to the media but the reports said that the “genetic material of Sars-Cov-2 was not detected.” The Israeli fugitive will undergo a 10-day Covid-19 quarantine at the Koh Samui Hospital to be safe.

The Department of Medical Science head Dr Supakit Sirilak is not convinced though, saying that the small amount of Omicron detected may be the cause of the Samui negative tests and that they will test a new specimen today. They are also sending the Samui samples to the labs in Muang district on the mainland in Surat Thani.

Regardless of whether he ends up being positive or negative for Covid-19 or Omicron, the Israeli tourist still violated Thai law for leaving without permission and faces a 5,000 baht fine plus 40,000 baht and up to 2 years in jail for breaking the emergency decree. After quarantine, he will be taken to Thong Lor police in Bangkok to face charges, possible fines, jail time, deportation or even a ban from Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post and Thai PBS World

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    Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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