BANGKOK — A Thai boxer and his singer wife won a recognition for going public about their coronavirus infections, which led officials to discover a virus cluster in Thailand’s boxing circles.
Boxer and actor Matthew Deane Chanthavanij and his singer wife Sarunrat “Lydia” Visutthithada were awarded titles “Heroes of Humanity” by the World Boxing Council on Saturday. The doctor who treated them, Wichai Techasit, also received an award by the organization.
“I announced that I had COVID-19 because I thought it was my duty and social responsibility. Anyone in my shoes would have done the same,” Matthew wrote on his Instagram Sunday. “If my announcement prevented just one person from getting the virus, then I am already very happy.”
The pair was treated by Wichai, a specialist of infectious diseases at Bumrungrad International Hospital, until they fully recovered.
“On days when I was worried and so scared, the doctor’s voice really encouraged me,” Lydia said while breaking down during the interview. “I was afraid I would die. I missed my son so much. On some days, I didn’t even want to wake up.”
On March 13, Matthew announced that he had COVID-19 in an Instagram video. His diagnosis was soon followed by his wife’s.
Matthew’s infection came as a shock to Thais, as the first celebrity to announce that he had COVID-19 publicly. One government official even warned that the pair could face cybercrime if their remarks turned out to be a hoax.
His revelation soon led health workers to trace his infection to the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, where he was the emcee for its March 6 boxing match, despite a government order to shut it down.
At least 130 people were later found infected with the coronavirus in connection with the army-owned boxing stadium.