A CHULALONGKORN University doctor suspects that the fast-spreading British variant of coronavirus that has now emerged in Thailand likely came across the border from Cambodia where a severe outbreak is raging, Siam Rath newspaper said this afternoon (April 8)
Dr Yong Poovorawan, head of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, said in Facebook post that British strain emerged in Cambodia on February 20 this year.
The World Health Organisation said within a short period of time till March 19 over 1,500 Cambodians had got infected with the British B.1.1.7 variant.
He added that it is unlikely the new outbreak in Thailand spread from overseas travellers who are quarantined.
It is more likely that it came through movement of people between Cambodia and Thailand with Thais going back and forth the land border between the two countries likely picking up this strain and passing it on to others here.
Two hospital reduce services
Meanwhile two hospitals, Ramathibodi and Siriraj, today announced that they are reducing their services and only accepting urgent cases after hospital personnel got infected with coronavirus.
Ramathibodi said five staff members tested positive for coronavirus today but they had contracted the disease outside working hours and after coming into close contact with those already infected. Four were attached to the hospital in Bangkok and one was based at the hospital in Samut Prakan. Two of five infected personnel are a resident orthopedic practitioner and an anesthesiologist.
As this hospital now has to quarantine its staff and reserve enough personnel for urgent and essential cases, people without urgent medical need were requested to postpone coming to the hospital and use online service instead.
Siriraj Hospital likewise announced that two doctors had got infected with coronavirus, with one being a resident orthopedic surgeon and physical therapy expert and the other an anesthesiologist.
To control infection within its premises, with operation services now reduced by 50%, this hospital urged outpatients to postpone their visits and contact the doctors there online.
Service is only provided for urgent cases or patients with unstable conditions.
Top: Hand in medical gloves holding a syringe with vaccine over the Great Britain flag. Photo: Marco Verch, professional photographer (CC BY 2.0)
Home Page: Concept image of Siriraj Hospital being hit with coronavirus. Photo: Siam Rath