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Black Club Covid-19 outbreak on Koh Samui widens

Neill Fronde



FILE PHOTO: The entrance to Black Bamboo Club, November 2020. (via Wikipedia)

After announcing a Covid-19 cluster outbreak at Black Bamboo Club in Koh Samui with 16 infections, many more people were found to have the virus. Over 600 people were tested yesterday in connection with the outbreak now sourced most likely to a fitness instructor in Lamai and reports of up to 90 additional cases are circulating with 38 infections currently confirmed. Many are reporting being turned away at the overloaded test centre and Covid-19 testing should be continuing over the next several days.

The cluster is Samui’s most significant outbreak of Covid-19 as the island has been fairly isolated from infections for most of the pandemic. The popular tourist island has reported about 100 Covid-19 infections throughout the pandemic until now.

The attendees were first given rapid tests that with reports of 70 to 90 positive results, but all are being retested to verify results. Rumours and information are swirling regarding the events leading up to the cluster and the number of infected. The official number of confirmed Covid-19 cases sourced from the Black Bamboo Club now stands at 38 infections. But those who tested negative after attending Black Bamboo Club are still being advised to self-isolate for 14 days.

New locations linked to the outbreak are being uncovered and warnings are being given for people who may have been exposed around the island. The Ministry of Public Health released details that a fitness trainer at Ultra Body Gym in Lamai had a fever and other symptoms by went to work up until July 24 before testing positive on July 26. Patrons who visited between 13 and 25 July are advised to seek testing. Another 19 year old woman in the Black cluster reported going to Baam Fitness regularly so any patrons are warned to get tested.

An alert was originally released yesterday for customers of Speedy Lounge and Bar in Lamai who may have been exposed on July 16 between 9:30 pm and 10:30 pm. And a nearby bar whose regular patrons were tested as part of the Black cluster announced on Facebook suddenly on the 27th that they were closing for one week for renovations.

The outbreak had been traced to a fitness instructor who an unconfirmed source revealed to The Thaiger, while other reporting says a 41 person birthday party hosted at the Black Club started the Covid-19 outbreak. The Thaiger has confirmed 2 birthday events during that time, with photos from one party posted July 18 said to include the fitness instructor in question.

According to Asean Now, the Koh Samui district chief Theerapong Chuaychu expanded an original statement vowing prosecution of the venues that spread the virus, and suggested that identified partygoers would also be prosecuted. This may hinder contract tracing and Covid-19 testing as some Black Club attendees may not come forward for public health safety because of a fear of prosecution.

The owner of the Black Bamboo Club released 2 statements, in English and in Thai each, to Facebook yesterday to announce the closure. The first statement seemed more focused on claiming no wrongdoing and stating that the club was following all Covid-19 regulations.

“I, Tinnakorn Poolsawad, owner of “The Black Bamboo Restaurant” at Chaweng Beach Koh Samui Surat Thani, want to explain to everyone that the restaurant was opened regularly to customers and has been filtering out Covid-19 by checking temperature, hand sanitisers, free masks for customers and ensure that all our staffs wear masks at all time. However, we received a notice that one of our customers from a couple of days ago got Covid-19. They had no symptoms or signs of Covid-19 so we offered them service as usual and were informed today that they have contracted Covid with no information of when or where they got it from.”

In a later statement, the Black Club owner’s wording was revised to be less accusatory towards the asymptomatic infected person and simply stated that a Covid-19 case was identified who attended the club.

“Unfortunately we have found out one of our customer who get infected of Covid-19 without symptom come to our restaurant between July 16-27, 2021. To response to COVID‑19 protection and social responsibility we will close the restaurant for 14 days.
We therefore ask for cooperation to customers and family members who come to use the service from 16-27 July 2021 in the past to go for covid screening at Sala Yai, Pru Chaweng, today from 13.00 onwards.”



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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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