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Chiang Mai Central Prison uncovers Alpha Plus Covid-19 cases

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Chiang Mai Central Prison uncovered 2 cases of the Alpha Plus Covid-19 variant. (via newsdirectory3)
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While 98% of Covid-19 in Thailand is now the Delta variant, with fears of some of the new Delta Plus strains creeping into the country, two inmates at Chiang Mai Central Prison have been diagnosed with infections of the Alpha Plus variant. The Covid-19 infection was originally detected in late September from genome sequencing and the Alpha variant discovery has just now been announced.

One of the patients is HIV positive and had previously recovered from Covid-19 and then became re-infected, well the other had been in close contact with the first, acting as a caretaker for him. The first patient originally contracted Covid-19 in May before the Delta variant was so dominant, and his infection was of the Alpha variant.

A new test of the whole genome sequencing for his current infection shows that it is a sub-variant of the Alpha strain. Genome sequencing is being regularly conducted in line with the Public Health Ministry’s guidelines in order to track the various strains and variants and how frequently they’re found in Thailand now.

An assistant Public Health officer pointed out that people with compromised immune systems can retain the virus the longer periods of time which can allow mutation. He said the patient had no travel history or exposure to the substrain from others.

Outside of the prison walls, Chiang Mai has been suffering its own surge in Covid-19 infections that has put the popular tourist province in peril ahead of Monday’s reopening. The governor has advised schools to delay for 2 weeks the planned Monday reopening of on-site learning if Covid-19 outbreaks are detected nearby. He urged schools and education institutes to be aware of the clusters in several areas around the province and consider delaying reopening until November 14.

Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul, ever the optimist, has stated he’s confident the Covid-19 surge in Chiang Mai will be quickly contained, commenting that Chiang Mai’s public health system was better prepared than most provinces but resources we’re ready to be mobilized as needed.

He said most infections we’re linked to markets in urban areas, and that he is closely monitoring the situation. Chiang Mai will continue to restrict large gatherings and for the international reopening on November 1 they will only open four districts to travellers: Doi Tao, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, and Muang.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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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