BANGKOK — One of the Thais infected with coronavirus was declared safe by the health ministry at a news conference on Wednesday, where he also spoke to the media about his ordeal.
The former patient, who works as a taxi driver, said he stopped working immediately once he noticed he had a flu-like condition and sought treatment from a hospital, upon which he was diagnosed with the novel strain of coronavirus. Officials asked the media not to identify the driver by name out of respect for his privacy.
“I’d like to tell taxi drivers to take care of themselves, instead of just working for money,” he said. “Taxis are the first group of people who meet tourists. How do we know the tourists are in safe condition? Please wear a mask, and give one to the tourists, too.”
He said he tested positive for coronavirus on Jan. 28, and his condition was so severe at one time that he had to rely on oxygen device to breathe. The man was later declared to be free of the virus.
The driver also said he did not have a negative feeling toward Chinese travelers, despite speculation that he might have contracted the virus from his Chinese passengers.
“I was infected with corona[virus], but I don’t have any ill feelings about Chinese tourists,” he said. “We are all one family in the world.”
He continued, “I will continue to pick up tourists, and I don’t feel bad about them. I watched the news when I was in the quarantine. I send my moral support to the people in Wuhan everyday, I want them to keep fighting.”
Health officials said the driver is one of 9 former patients who had since recovered from coronavirus, while 16 infected individuals are still in hospitals.
Those who fully recovered also included a 73-year-old Thai woman who was sent to hospital shortly after returning from Wuhan in early January.
Health minister Anutin Charnvirakul praised the unnamed taxi driver for isolating himself and seeking medical treatment upon feeling ill.
“The patient is a good role model,” Anutin said. “If anyone feels [sick] or comes into contact with a risky group, get treatment without delay. I believe everyone will recover. I believe in the skills of Thai doctors.”