Myanmar man found dead, likely infected with new Omicron strain


A MYANMAR man was found dead in his room in the Sathorn area after celebrating Songkran with his friends and it is suspected that he was infected with the new Omicron subvariant XBB. 1.16, Thai Rath newspaper said this afternoon (Apr. 17).

At 1 p.m. Pol. Lt. Col. Saranyapong Thongpan, an investigator at Wat Phraya Krai police station, was notified of a Myanmar man having died at a commercial building on Chan road  and went there to check with a forensic doctor from Chulalongkorn Hospital and rescuers Ruamkatanyu Foundation.

At the scene, a five-storey commercial building with the top floor divided into rooms, they found the body of Mr. Chan Aye, 34, lying on the floor. There was no sign of any violence and an ATK test showed he had been infected with Covid-19.

Residents told police that the deceased worked at a factory leaving early in the morning and returning late at night everyday. During Songkran holidays he only ran errands and celebrated the festival with his countrymen.

However two days ago he developed fever and had red eyes and it is likely he had caught the new Omicron strain which affects the eyes too. He refused to go get medical treatment and died this afternoon.

His body was taken in an anti-germ bag to Chulalongkorn Hospital and will be later released to his employer and relatives for cremation at a temple.

Earlier Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, said this year’s Songkran celebration which took place after a three-year pause has seen people having close contact with others without wearing a face mask and it is expected that there will now be a spike in Covid cases.

Last week, April 9-15, 435 new patients were admitted to the hospital, an average of 62 a day, with 30 suffering from pneumonia, 19 needing intubation and two deaths with both having been vaccinated over three months ago.

Dr. Opas urged the public to observe their symptoms for seven days after the festival ends and avoid getting close to the elderly or people suffering from chronic illnesses. Those who feel sick should undergo an ATK test.

He outlined three new measures to curb the spread of Covid infection as follows:

– Everyone should get their annual Covid jab with those needing an influenza shot too able to get both at one go from next month onwards. Long Acting Antibody (LAAB) is available for those suffering from immunodeficiency disorders.

– Wear a face mask in public, especially when participating in activities or going to places where there are a large number of people.

– Take the ATK test if you start getting respiratory problems, fever, cough and sore throat. If the result is positive, wear a face mask and avoid close contact with others, especially those of the 608 group, that is the elderly over sixty years old, those suffering from chronic diseases and pregnant women. If your condition worsens, seek medical attention.

Meanwhile Dr. Suphakit Sirilak, the head of the Medical Sciences Department, said his agency together with a network of laboratories is continuously watching out for new  Covid-19 strains.

Currently the main subvariants in Thailand are XBB hybrids XBB.1.5 and XBB.1.9.1.

“As for XBB.1.16 strain, this is increasing here similar to the rest of the world. It has increased rapidly in India with experts across the world certain that XBB.1.16 will likely replace all other strains and become the dominant subvariant in future.

“However it has not been found to be more virulent than other Omicron subvariants nor has it currently been found to be capable of evading vaccine immunity better than the other subvariants,” he said.


Top: Rescuers taking the Myanmar man’s body from his room, right, with an ATK test kit showing he was Covid positive, left.

Front Page: The commercial building where the deceased man’s room was located.

First insert: Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong.

Second insert: Dr. Suphakit Sirilak. All photos: Thai Rath

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