Thailand Reports 1st Domestic Coronavirus Transmission

Health officials inspect a group of Chinese travelers in Surat Thani province for coronavirus on Jan. 30, 2020.

BANGKOK — Five additional people tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus in Thailand including one person who has no history of travels to China, health officials said.

Department of Disease Control deputy director Tanarak Pipat identified the victim of the domestic transmission as a Thai taxi driver, but no other details were available. The announcement brought the total figure of confirmed coronavirus cases in the kingdom to 19.

Apart from the unnamed taxi driver, the other patients are Chinese tourists from Hubei province.

Tanarak said 13 people who came in close contact with the cabbie have been placed under monitor for possible infection, including eight passengers and five family members. 

The news is expected to send a shockwave of panic throughout the Thai capital, where millions of commuters rely on taxis and crowded public transports. It also shattered any sense of relief brought earlier today by the health ministry’s announcement that it had not found any new coronavirus patient for the past three days.

There is no immediate reaction from PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who told reporters earlier this week the government has the situation “100 percent under control.”

Thailand is now the third country to report local transmission of coronavirus outside China, after Japan and Germany.