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Panic, precautions and contradictions over Thailand’s first coronavirus death



PHOTOS: Kunlaphun Siripimamporn/The Nation

Mild panic, and a new raft of precautions pervades the Coronavirus narrative in Thailand as we head into another week. Over the weekend the Health Ministry announced a new range of precautionary measures whilst most of Thailand’s tourist spots remain quiet – a lot quieter than usual. There was also the announcement of the first coronavirus-related death in Thailand over the weekend.

The Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok, usually teeming with tourists on the weekends, was mostly deserted yesterday morning as visitors from, principally, China, who come to worship at the Erawan Shrine, stayed away.

Further north, the numbers at Chiang Mai’s international airport are expected to fall 40% to just 3.5 million in the first six months of 2020 if the outbreak of Covid-19 drags on until the middle of the year.

Chiang Mai airport deputy director Thananrat Prasertsri says that flights to the airport during the period January 1 – February 25 dropped 24% year on year, and passenger numbers fell 40% year on year to 22,000 daily. In the last two years, the airport has catered to 11 million passengers, despite being built for to serve a maximum of 8 million per year.

Meanwhile, Thailand yesterday confirmed its first death from complications related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The director-general of the Department of Disease Control, made the announcement in Bangkok yesterday. The victim was described as a 35 year old who also had complications from dengue fever at the time of his death.

The patient, reportedly a sales consultant who worked directly with Chinese tourists, had been in hospital for around a month and originally tested positive for the coronavirus in early February. The man died of multi-organ failure although doctors had “detected no coronavirus in his body since February 16”.

The man has now been identified as a sales consultant working at a duty-free shop run by King Power at its Srivaree branch in Samut Prakan.

The man had been first treated for dengue fever at a private hospital in late January before being transferred to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province because he had also contracted the Covid-19 virus.

The man died on Saturday evening.

But according to Bangkok Post, his explanation from the Department of Disease Control contradicts information from by Thiravat Hemachudha, the head of King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital’s Centre for Emerging Diseases. Posting on his Facebook page yesterday morning, Dr Thiravat said… “His two lungs were affected by pneumonia, which shows he caught Covid-19 from the beginning, not dengue fever.”

“I think the Public Health Ministry probably made some inaccurate assessment of the patient’s conditions and diseases.”

For its part, the Health Ministry says it will make further announcements about the case as soon as results are available from an autopsy.

At the same time the health ministry has now designated Coronavirus Covid-19 as a “dangerous communicable disease”, a designation which took effect yesterday. The announcement gives authorities sweeping powers to contain the spread of the virus in Thailand. The national committee on communicable diseases says they’ve agreed to list Covid-19 as a “dangerous communicable disease” in order to give health authorities opportunities to respond more quickly to any outbreaks or containments.

Panic, precautions and contradictions over Thailand's first coronavirus death | News by Thaiger


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