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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai medic claims Burmese coronavirus a different strain, spreads 20% faster



PHOTO: Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

Dr Prasit Watanapa from the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital says the coronavirus currently circulating in Myanmar is a different strain and is being transmitted 20% faster than the one detected in Wuhan at the start of the pandemic. The Wuhan strain is known as D614, whereas the more virulent strain currently found in Western countries is G614. Prasit says around 60% of the cases in Myanmar are the G614 strain.

“G614, which can spread faster, therefore needs a faster response.”

Addressing the matter of Thai nationals sneaking back in to the country and bypassing quarantine, he warns that such behaviour will worsen the situation and put everyone’s health at risk.

“Only one slip can cause great damage to the country.”

He adds that Thais shouldn’t let their guard down as a result of vaccine breakthroughs, as they could be waiting some time for the jab.

“Don’t pin your hopes on it, as it could take at least half a year for Thailand to gain access to Covid-19 vaccines.”

Meanwhile, Opas Kankawinphong from the Disease Control Department says Thailand now has 46 cases of Covid-19 linked to infected Thais who returned from Myanmar. All patients are being treated in hospitals or state quarantine. Tests have been carried out on over 5,000 people who had contact with them. It’s understood only 1 person, a friend of a returnee, who travelled with that person, has tested positive. Yesterday was the first day in nearly 2 weeks that Thailand didn’t report a case of local transmission caused by illegal entry into the Kingdom.

According to Sopon Iamsirithaworn from the Division of Communicable Diseases, 55 people who had contact with the 51 year old Covid patient from the central province of Sing Buri have tested negative.

The Bangkok Post reports that around 400 Thai nationals are stuck in Myanmar. 42 who officially applied to return re-entered Thailand through the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge yesterday. In the northern province of Tak, which borders Myanmar, the governor says Thai nationals have been allowed to return through legitimate border crossings since the start of the week. Although Tak closed its border with Myanmar in March, officials are allowing returnees to enter via the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, in order to prevent illegal crossings.

Meanwhile, Chiang Rai governor, Prachon Pratsakul, is calling on Thais who want to return from the Burmese town of Tachileik, to lodge their request with the Township Border Committee. However, he adds that they will face a fine of 1,800 baht per person for having entered Myanmar illegally.

It’s understood businesses in Chiang Rai who threatened to sue illegal returnees for the loss of business caused by Covid fears are putting their plans on hold for now. Anurat Inthon from the Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce says opinion is divided on whether the returnees should face legal action.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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