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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai returnee tests positive for South Africa Covid-19 variant

Caitlin Ashworth




A Thai national, who is in quarantine after returning from Tanzania, is infected with the South Africa strain of Covid-19, a variant of the virus known to be more contagious and believed to be resistant to some vaccines. The Department of Disease Control director general Opas Karnkawinpong says health officials are closely monitoring the situation and a rapid screening process will be applied to those arriving from areas at high risk of the South Africa variant.

The 41 year old Thai gem trader had travelled to Tanzania for business. He then travelled to Ethiopia and returned to Thailand on January 29. He tested positive for Covid-19 while undergoing the mandatory 14 day quarantine for those arriving in Thailand. Opas says the new variant is more infectious, but is less severe. He assures the public that no medical staff have been infected while treating the patient.

“The department is closely monitoring the situation following concerns the South Africa variant may have reached Thailand… Mutations, such as the G variant from England, may make the virus spread faster but they are less severe.”

A preliminary report shows that AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine only provides limited protection against the new South Africa strain of the virus. Following the report, the South African government halted the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post| Thai PBS


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  1. Avatar


    Monday, February 15, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    This is funny. The vaccine offers limited protection against newer variants. Looks like they gotta create more vaccines and continue the madness, or just let it run it’s course.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, February 15, 2021 at 12:41 pm

      What’s “funny” about it, Bill? That more people could die as a result?

    • Avatar


      Monday, February 15, 2021 at 2:24 pm

      It’s unlikely that natural immunity or the vaccines for that matter won’t provide a high degree of resistance against sarscov2. It’s already been established that immunity to even the common cold (caused by one of 4 other coronaviruses that freely circulate within our population) helps protect people against sarscov2.

      Add in the fact that the fatality rate is 0.2%, than viruses tend to weaken, and I think we’re good.

      But the fake journos won’t stop ratcheting up the hysteria. They’re on a virtue signaling crusade to save face. They’re clearly compensating for their poor judgement with vindictiveness. In order to save face, the establishment has to demonstrate to the public that sarscov2 really is as scary as they claimed, and they do so by continuing to overreact. Joe Public thinks “Well, if I have to lose my livelihood because of this, then it really must be scary!”

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Monday, February 15, 2021 at 3:19 pm

        “established” by who, exactly, dispensed?

        … and what “fact” about the viruses tending to weaken?

        Who “established” that?

        Just asking …..

      • Avatar

        Phuket Tony

        Monday, February 15, 2021 at 5:02 pm

        well said….
        the media just wont let this go… and keeps making up stories to scare people.
        Another strand…. oh now another strand…,, wait yet a new strand… what a joke.

  2. Avatar

    Patrick Kelly

    Monday, February 15, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    Oh no…the variants means we stay closed for longer. The government apologists & lockdown locals will keep living in fear & paranoia until we go back to 2019. Good luck with that! What a miserable way to live .

    • Avatar


      Monday, February 15, 2021 at 2:26 pm

      I know, right? What ever happened to traditional Buddhist beliefs, like reincarnation and the concept that death is a part of life? Apparently traditional values got replaced by media hysteria spoon-fed to the public via smartphones

  3. Avatar

    Issan John

    Monday, February 15, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    The “rapid screening process” looks like a very sensible additiojnal precaution under the circumstances as it’s explained more fully elsewhere:

    “For those who arrive in Thailand from countries where the South African strain of COVID-19 is spreading, Dr. Opas said that a rapid screening process will be applied. This means fluid samples will be collected from the arrivals immediately, analyzed and, based on the results, the arriving passenger is sent to hospital.”

    Certain countries that have taken over a year to realise that quarantine should be part of the routine arrival process, and who are still to implement it, could learn a great deal from those who have been doing so very successfully such as New Zealand and Thailand.

    • Avatar


      Monday, February 15, 2021 at 2:00 pm

      Don’t forget Australia John 🙂 54 cases. I do get annoyed that worldometer lists us as having 1800+ people infected while the reality is approx 4 cases. Just a pity Melbourne had to be locked down as has Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane due to the UK and South African variants in their time. These variants need to be taken seriously. Vaccines do still prevent sever illness but it’s the increased transmissibility that is the concern..

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Monday, February 15, 2021 at 3:15 pm

        Agreed on the variants, Jason, but I’m not sure what your stats show – officially it’s nearly 30,000 cases and over 900 deaths so far from a population of 25 million so hardly that successful in comparison to some, albeit way, way better than most.

        I see vaccination’s starting, though …

    • Avatar


      Monday, February 15, 2021 at 2:29 pm

      Or you could grow up, stop acting like a child, and accept that herd immunity is the only long term solution here.

      Step one for you: Turn off all sources of media. Your sense of reality has clearly been badly distorted by excessive media consumption.

      And not to spike the ball or anything, but, Johnny, did you forfeit your pension income this year to help the 10 million people who starved to death including 3 million children under 5 years old? No, you didn’t. So shut it.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Monday, February 15, 2021 at 3:32 pm

        Why would I “accept” something no experts in the field think exists, dispensed?

        … and why would I “forfeit [my] pension income this year to help the 10 million people who starved to death including 3 million children under 5 years old” any more than in any other year when the actual numbers according to the WFP and others have been growing at the same rate for a decade or more, largely due to wars that few have made any effort to stop rather than Covid-19?

        … that doesn’t make much sense, but I suppose I should be used to that …

    • Avatar

      David Mann

      Monday, February 15, 2021 at 4:18 pm

      You can not look at what is a complex issue in a single dimension. While some countries took the view that saving lives from death by Covid-19 was the only thing to do, others took the view that it was a balance between direct deaths by Covid and the winder impact on society. It is totally wrong to compare the success or failure of one country compared to another by a single measure. To compare a country like the U.S or U.K. to New Zealand or Thailand is simply ignoring so many issues that I’m sure I would exceed the word count of I tried to explain.

      Countries like the U.K. who have now started quarantine for people arriving from certain countries, is not and example of the U.K. catching up with New Zealand or Thailand. It’s another carefully considered move as to what is, ON BALANCE, an appropriate step to take.

      There are many lessons to be learned by the whole world in the response to this pandemic. Simply saying Thailand or New Zealand got it right and the U.S and U.K. got it wrong is ridiculous and silly.

      Has the U.S or U.K. got everything right with this pandemic? Of course not. Slow to lock down, slow to mandate face coverings, relaxing lockdowns too early. All of these can be questioned and lessons learned. Has Thailand got everything right with this pandemic? Of course not. Insufficient testing, allowing its strict lockdown policy to be breached. Potential failure of a major industry (tourism). Widening the poverty gap of an already wide gap.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Monday, February 15, 2021 at 6:20 pm

        Sorry, David M, but it’s far from “ridiculour or silly” to say that some countries got it right and some got it wrong.

        Despite your protestations, nobody here and least of all me, has ever “compared the success or failure of one country compared to another by a single measure” apart from with vaccinations.

        While none have got it ALL right some have clearly got it ALL wrong on every quantifiable level – not just “in a single dimension” but in EVERY dimension, social, economic, and medical.

        Choose any metric you want, and the US and the UK have very clearly stuffed up on all of them except buying vaccines to try to make up for their dismal performance in every other area.

        Go on, choose any metric you like. Any at all!

        As for Thailand’s “insufficient testing”, based on what?

        Going by all the available comparable evidence (fatalities, excess deaths, hospitalisations, ICU places, patients with other issues turned away, operations delayed, etc, again any comparable metric you like – your choice 🙂 ) Thailand has got it absolutely right as it has done less tests than many but it has clearly been testing the right people.

        On the other hand, while the UK and the US have undoubtedly done far, far more tests per head they’ve both clearly got it wrong (again, choose any metric you like) as they’ve been testing the wrong people. Up until now the UK’s been happily letting in anyone, from anywhere, not just without mandatory and supervised quarantine but without even testing any of them over the next 14 days when they’re supposed to be in quarantine. That isn’t “carefully considered” as it was failing to test those it should have tested while testing those who didn’t need testing.

        That isn’t “carefully considered” – it’s simply stupid.

        • Avatar

          David Mann

          Monday, February 15, 2021 at 8:27 pm

          As ever IJ you show your lack of intelligence and intellect, so forgive me if I don’t engage in your silliness too much but a short explanation.

          My point is that until we get to perhaps 2023 or 2025, it will be impossible to say who got it right or wrong. Even then, with the half baked reporting of figures by Thailand, then it would still be difficult to compare. Take for example unemployment figures. Thailand quotes ridiculously low unemployment figures of less than 1% under normal times. Anyone who has been in the country more than a few days can see this is total nonsense. So how will we measure and judge the impact on the Thai people when it comes to failed businesses for example? The same inaccurate figures can be applied to excess death and people who have contracted the virus. After all, you yourself believed that around 3-10 people die of influenza each year in Thailand. ??. Or take suicide rates which in the U.K. is around 11/100,000, 14/100,000 and 14/100,000 in Thailand. Will Thailand’s Covid policy be seen as a success if that goes to 16 or 20/100,000?

          The U.K. records it’s Covid cases as people who have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test. The U.K. is testing over 500,000 people per DAY peaking at 800,000. The U.S is testing 1.4 MILLION per day. Of course a number of those will die within nearly a month and be classed a a Covid death. The U.K. and U.S are testing more in one day (probs ly a few hours) than Thailand has done since the start of March 2020. So how can you compare so easily?
          Add to this that trying to compare an economy like Thailand or the massive business and travel hubs that exits in the U.S and the U.K. to Thailand and your argument is full of holes.

          I’m not talking about single dimension set of KPI’s such as admissions to hospitals, deaths and excess deaths (focusing just on Covid numbers). Any country who simply locks down and shields itself from the outside world could and would have achieved the same results. But when you are trying to balance that with the size of the U.S economy and the fact that these countries are truly multinational, multiethnic open and democratic societies and your argument fall apart. It’s is no coincidence that the U.S, U.K., Italy, France, Germany etc have all had a similar performance when it comes to infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

          There are also other factors at play that help a country like Thailand. Why do you think infections fall in Europe and the US in the summer months? People are outside more. Windows are open and rooms ventilated. The heat and UV all help to destroy the viral load. Thailand has those natural conditions for most of the year

          Open you mind and stop being victim of propaganda.

          • Avatar

            Issan John

            Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 1:38 am

            David M, I can easily believe that it may take you two or three years to realise just how badly the UK and USA got it wrong, but … well … that’s you.

            What “half baked reporting of figures by Thailand”?

            No prejudice there!

            The reporting’s supported by all the available and verifiable data, without exception – excess deaths, hospitalizations, random testing, targeted testing, temperature testing, etc.

            Rather difficult for them to all be wrong, unless you’ve convinced yourself that Thailand is N Korea.

            “Take unemployment figures”.

            Certainly. Since they’re measured differently, the obvious comparator is percentage change.

            Not exactly complicated but somehow you’ve missed it.

            “failed businesses”…”excess deaths” …. “suicide rates”

            All directly comparable, again, by comparing percentage change.


            Two totally different systems so the numbers can’t be directly compared, but the efficiency of the results can by comparing the numbers testing positive against excess deaths, hospitalizations, etc.

            “Economies”, etc?

            As I said, I thought pretty clearly, “any comparable metric you like – your choice, pick your metric.”

            If you then pick a metric that you know is NOT “comparable” then it isn’t MY argument that’s “full of holes” 😮

            “the U.S, U.K., Italy, France, Germany etc have all had a similar performance when it comes to infections, hospitalizations and deaths.”

            No they haven’t. That’s completely untrue. Look at the difference between, say, the UK and Germany:

            The UK’s had 1,772 deaths per million, while Germany’s had 765 deaths per million.

            The UK’s had 61,200 cases per million, while Germany’s had 27,500 cases per million.

            How can that be “a similar performance” when the UK’s done more than twice as badly???

            Aaah … so the problem’s been the weather?

            The frightening thing about this is that you’re serious and you probably still believe the nonsense you wrote, even including the rubbish that Germany and the UK have had a “similar performance”.

            I’m tempted to say open your mind and stop being a victim of your own stupidity, but I doubt that’s possible.

  4. Avatar


    Monday, February 15, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    but do Thai citizens perform the PCR test before returning to Thailand? No medical personnel were infected but were those who traveled with him checked? Has the airline been notified?

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, February 15, 2021 at 1:59 pm

      I suggest you read the source reports, Gigitour, but to save you the trouble:

      No, Thai citizens don’t need a PCR test before returning; I’ve no idea why but think it’s a bad mistake and have said so frequently as have others.

      … and all “those who traveled with him” would have been checked routinely during the mandatory 14 day quarantine.

      • Avatar

        David Mann

        Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 5:48 am

        I couldn’t reply to your last load of nonsense IJ. For some reason even The Tiger seems to have stopped the debate as they must see you are talking nonsense. You still just don’t get it and it’s clear you never will. Time to stop banging my head on this particular thick wall.
        You believe that the Thais have done a great job in containing Covid. I agree. But you are still missing my point that managing a pandemic is a bigger issue than simply keeping infections and deaths low. The equation is far more complex. That’s clearly an intellectual step too far for you to have a sensible debate. Anyone who can even start to justify the unemployment figures in Thailand and then claim a percentage increase is all the evidence you need just doesn’t get it. 10% of crap data is just 10% of crap data. I hope your adopted country takes good care of you and you get a Covid vaccine soon.

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 2:05 pm

          David M, I’m not “still missing [your] point that managing a pandemic is a bigger issue than simply keeping infections and deaths low”.

          I suggested you “look at any comparable metric” “your choice” and YOU chose those two. NOT ME!

          YOU also chose “unemployment” as a metric.

          You can’t blame me if your choice was a stupid one!

          … and since you think that the UK and Germany have had a “similar performance” over deaths and infections, the “crap data” is evidently YOURS.

          The UK’s had 1,772 deaths per million, while Germany’s had 765 deaths per million.

          The UK’s had 61,200 cases per million, while Germany’s had 27,500 cases per million.

          Those aren’t “similar”, except maybe on your planet.

          • Avatar

            David Mann

            Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 10:02 pm


  5. Avatar


    Monday, February 15, 2021 at 2:29 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with John. It was only recently that in my own country, I discovered that returnees were hopping onto a plane to come here from overseas, with NO PCR test before departure??? No wonder we kept getting positive cases in hotel quarantine. We have since changed things to insist on it. No test….no travel. Any escape of either the UK or South African variants requires snap lockdown of the city and surrounds (3 to 5 days) to give contact tracers a chance to get ahead of the virus. I can say that that is the reason my country has managed to contain 5 outbreaks of these strains in 5 capital cities. If you want to know what works…that works. Or stick your head in the sand and deny it. You might want to volunteer your services at your local quarantine place…after all it’s just the flu….right?

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, February 15, 2021 at 3:45 pm

      Jason, you think that’s bad?

      I knew the UK was leaving quarantine on arrival as “please, but up to you” until now, but I’d assumed that at least arrivals had a Covid-19 test at some time during quarantine as they’re making such a big deal about the numbers tested …

      … but ‘no’ 😮

      … not only was quarantine on arrival unsupervised and unenforced, but no arrivals were ever tested during their 14 days supposed quarantine unless they were sick, showed symptoms, and asked to be 😮 😮 😮

      … just unbelievable 😮

  6. Avatar


    Monday, February 15, 2021 at 3:55 pm

    Well, the vaccine producers, Astra-zenica in particular, say that it is not proven that their vaccine doesn’t work with the the SA variant. The preliminary data thus far only tells that more people got light symptoms from the virus, but there are not more severe cases or deaths reported. I am lined up to get this vaccine in the next two months so I hope that’ll be the case.

  7. Avatar


    Monday, February 15, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    I think we “wised up”, although hotel quarantine has been one escaped case after another. These being based in metropolitan cities where they should be in more remote areas with less chance of community transmission.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, February 15, 2021 at 6:22 pm

      PNG would seem a missed opportunity!

  8. Avatar

    Jim kelly

    Monday, February 15, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    This ‘geek’ from Africa probably also has AIDS, Malaria, Typhoid and Diptheria. Covid’s the least of his worries!

  9. Avatar

    Texas Brad

    Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 3:01 am

    I enjoy reading all these comments and noticed a few regular posters. What i giggle to myself about most of the time is why some still react to the poster Issan John. Have all the regular posters not realised by now it is completely pointless trying to explain something to a simpleton?! ?

  10. Avatar

    Labour forever

    Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 4:46 am

    Im sorry but many on here keep bashing the UK about how its dealt with the pandemic and how unbelievably bad the decisions by government have been but if its so unbelievable yet you believe it, what does that say about you all? Maybe you should dig deeper and look for more believable reasons such decisions have been made?

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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