Thailand tests nearly 600 people exposed to COVID case

Medical staffs wearing personnel protective equipment (PPE) are seen before working at the COVID-19 testing laboratory at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International airport amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Thailand,

Thailand said on Wednesday it had tested nearly 600 people potentially exposed to the country’s first domestic coronavirus case in over three months, but has so far found no new infections.

The man, 37, had worked as a nightclub DJ at three different venues in the capital Bangkok in the two weeks before he tested positive on arrival in prison, following his recent conviction for a drugs-related offence.

Individuals deemed at risk across 12 venues including the court where he appeared, nightclubs and supermarkets were tracked down and 569 tests were administered, the Public Health Ministry said.

So far, all tests have come back negative and 32 individuals were awaiting results. Authorities have asked 400 other individuals considered low-risk to self-quarantine for 14 days.

How the man became infected remains a mystery, with all of Thailand’s recent cases, typically less than a handful each day, detected in state quarantine among people returning from abroad.

Thailand has reported a total of 3,447 confirmed infections, 58 fatalities and has relaxed internal restrictions. That toll is one of the region’s lowest, with Indonesia and the Philippines the highest with more than 200,000 cases each.

Natural border crossings and check points with neighbouring countries like Myanmar and Laos have been tightened to prevent illegal entry, Thai Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Chatchai Promlert said.

Myanmar last week sealed up its capital city after seeing cases more than double in just a few weeks.

The re-emergence of the virus in Thailand was another blow to its economy, delaying a plan from Oct. 1 to start allowing the return of foreign tourists, initially on the island-resort of Phuket, with mandatory quarantine and limits on movement.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy suffered its biggest shrinkage in more than two decades in the second quarter as the coronavirus outbreak froze tourism and slowed consumption.

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