A mysterious case of local contagion keeps Thailand in suspense

Thailand tries to solve the mystery of the only local contagion of COVID-19 detected in the last three months, a DJ who worked various nightspots, with no related cases discovered a week later despite the highly contagious nature of the coronavirus.

The authorities, who They have already carried out 570 tests, they are looking for possible infections among more than 1,000 people who were in contact with the DJ, who tested positive for COVID-19 on September 3 when taking a test in the jail where he had entered for a drug crime.

This isolated local case was discovered the day after Thailand celebrated having gone 100 days without detecting a community contagion of the disease, which has so far caused more than 3,400 infections, including 58 deaths.

The few daily infections that are being detected in the country are imported and affect travelers in quarantine.

SEARCHING RELATED CASES

The 37-year-old DJ, who has not traveled abroad since the start of the pandemic and whose identity has not been made public, is being treated at a prison hospital in Bangkok, while many wonder why there are no more cases. related to it.

The 570 negative tests carried out so far include five people who lived with the DJ and 34 inmates who were in contact with him, who entered prison on August 26, according to official data.

In addition, authorities have installed portable booths to facilitate testing near three bars where the patient worked, including a venue on Bangkok’s popular Khao San Road.

Nightlife venues are areas at risk of outbreaks, such as the one that occurred with dozens of people infected last March in an area of ​​bars and restaurants in Thong Lor, a capital neighborhood.

FIRST CASE OUTSIDE OF CHINA

Thailand, with a population of almost 70 million inhabitants, was the first country to detect a contagion of the new coronavirus outside of China – probable origin of the pandemic – last January.

Despite its proximity to the Asian giant and being the main tourist destination chosen by the Chinese, Thailand has so far escaped the large increase in infections from other countries such as India, Spain or the United States, and even the high numbers registered in closer nations such as Indonesia (with 207,000 cases) or the Philippines (with 249,000).

The key to this success is also a mystery, although Thailand has the experience of other epidemics such as SARS, another type of coronavirus, and bird fever, in addition to the widespread use of masks and the custom of not touching each other in the greeting .

Dr. Sophon Iamsirithawon, director of the Department of Infection Control, attributes the low incidence of the virus to “collaboration and public awareness,” including Volunteers for People’s Health, an organization with more than a million members that is dedicated to track cases in rural areas.

“I would say that Thailand is experiencing a very low or insignificant level of infections within the country, rather than claiming that it has no new cases at all,” Sophon told Efe last week, who specified that 80% of positive cases they are asymptomatic and may not have been detected by local authorities.

STRICT CONTROL MEASURES

The Thai government ordered strict containment measures in March such as movement controls, a night curfew, the mandatory use of masks in places such as supermarkets or public transport, and the closure of borders, although it did not go so far as to decree a strict confinement.

These measures have hit the Thai economy hard, which went into recession with GDP falling 12.2% in the second quarter of the year and 2% in the first and, according to the Bank of Thailand forecast, will suffer this year a 8.1% contraction.