THE Public Health Ministry today (Feb. 14) revealed that the South African Covid-19 strain had reached Thailand with this found in a Thai man who had spent two months in Tanzania on a gem buying trip and returning Jan. 29 after transiting in Ethiopia, TV Channel 7 said.
Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Disease Control Department, said the 41-year-old patient has underlying conditions with these being asthma, high blood pressure and obesity.
On Feb 3 he tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalized with low fever and cough.
Because of his trip to southern Africa his samples were sent to the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases Health Science Centre for decoding and the South African variant was found.
The disease investigation team then assessed exposure to this coronavirus variant and found that the staff at the state quarantine centre had carried out their duties very carefully and all 41 tested negative for this infection.
“I confirm that the South African strain of coronavirus was detected in the quarantine facility and there is no epidemic in a community.
“This variant is endemic to Africa, Europe, Australia and America, there is no infection in Asia. We have to closely monitor so that Thailand is not affected,” he said.
The South African variant carries a mutation, called N501Y, that appears to make it more contagious or easy to spread. Another mutation, called E484K, could help the virus dodge a person’s immune system and may affect how well coronavirus vaccines work, BBC said.
Dr Opas added that it is the UK or Kent variant which is more infectious with the South Afrian strain more resistant to some vaccines, with some brands having to be withheld.
In Thailand many agencies are tracking down coronavirus variants that may enter the country but they would be detected within the 14-day quarantine period.
Top: Coronavirus. Photo: Getty images and published by BBC
Home Page: Dr Opas briefing the press today. Thai headline says, “South African strain has reached Thailand.” Photo: TV Channel 7