Police Refute Report of Checkpoint Cop Infected With COVID-19

A security officer checks a motorist for temperature in Bangkok on March 27, 2020.

BANGKOK — Police on Monday insist media reports of a policeman assigned to the coronavirus screening checkpoint infected with coronavirus are unfounded.

Refuting a widely reported story over the weekend, police commanders said the officer in question, identified as Lt. Col. Somkiat Anantakal of Taling Chan Police Station, was not even present at the police checkpoints before he tested positive for the virus.

“He was not at the checkpoint, one hundred percent,” station chief Col. Warawat Thammasorot said by phone. “He was already sick at home when the checkpoint was set up. He didn’t come to the station, even … Please rest assured.”

National police spokesman Kissana Phattanacharoen said Somkiat was “completely unrelated to” the checkpoint. The Metropolitan Police Bureau on Monday also issued a statement insisting that Lt. Col. Somkiat was never personally involved in checkpoint duties.

Police said Somkiat, who worked as a traffic police officer, went to Siriraj Hospital on Thursday to get tested for coronavirus and was sent for treatment at the Police General Hospital on Friday.

Six of Somkiat’s colleagues are now in quarantine and are awaiting results for COVID-19.

The police spokesman said that 36 policemen, mostly metropolitan officers, have contracted the virus so far, with two recovering. Currently at least 666 police officers are in quarantine, he added.

Latest Figures on COVID-19

Health ministry spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin said Monday that a 68-year-old man was the seventh coronavirus death in the country. The total number of infected increased 136, bringing the confirmed tally to 1,524. Of that number, 216 are foreigners.

At-risk provinces are Phuket, Ubon Ratchathani, Krabi, Yala, Pattani, Chonburi, and Sa Kaeo.

Phuket has closed its incoming road and boat traffic until April 30, all beaches, zoos, walking streets, and other entertainment venues are ordered closed, and people are ordered not to go outside from 8pm to 3am. Cases in Ubon Ratchathani were linked to a boxing match at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium as well as people working in the Cambodian border town of Poi Pet.

Residents in Phuket, Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat are strongly advised to stay indoors. Local authorities also imposed checkpoints and discouraged citizens to travel across the provinces.

Additional writing Teeranai Charuvastra