Officials Say British Convict Not Infected by Coronavirus

Photo released by the Department of Corrections shows British citizen Mark Rumble at Bangkok Remand Prison prior to his extradition, with his face blurred out.
Photo released by the Department of Corrections shows British citizen Mark Rumble at Bangkok Remand Prison prior to his extradition, with his face blurred out.

BANGKOK — Top corrections official on Wednesday refuted a claim published in a British tabloid that a British inmate extradited from Thai prison was infected with a new strain of coronavirus.

Narat Sawettanan said Mark Rumble, 31, was diagnosed to be clear of the new virus, which has been given an official name of Covid-19, prior to his extradition to the UK in January. Rumble was arrested in Thailand for drug-related offenses.

Daily Mail previously reported that Rumble collapsed in his prison cell at HMP Bullingdon on Monday and said the man was suspected of contracting coronavirus from Thailand.

“British prisoner suspected with coronavirus collapsed in his cell after returning from jail in Thailand,” the original headline reads.

Another inmate also reportedly developed flu-like symptoms, while the prison wing where Rumble stayed was put in lockdown over the virus fear, according to the article.

“It’s been two weeks already [since he left Thailand]. The incident may not be related to Thailand,” Narat said.

It is the second time British tabloid media appeared to have raised false alarm over coronavirus cases in Thailand. In January, The Sun reported that a British man fell ill with the virus in Phuket, but officials said he was in fact diagnosed with a bacterial infection.

Narat added that none of the 374,406 inmates nationwide has been found to be infected with Covid-19. The department is working with health officials to screen new inmates for possible signs of infection, he said.

As of Wednesday, Thailand has confirmed 33 cases of people infected with Covid-19. Eleven of them have been treated and allowed to return home. No death related to the virus has been reported in Thailand so far.