Officials Play Down Virus Risk From Cases Outside Quarantine

Health workers process a group of migrant workers at a state quarantine facility in Chiang Mai province on Aug. 18, 2020

BANGKOK — Two women who tested positive for the coronavirus after completing their 14-day quarantine have no risk transmitting the virus to others, health officials said Wednesday. 

Government health officials say that the two women, from Loei and Chaiyaphum provinces, contained only residues of dead coronavirus cells, and they were not potent enough to infect others. The pair recently returned from the United Arab Emirates, reports say. 

“We’ve run into this before, where patients have been discharged and we found ‘scraps’ of the virus inside, but they have no risk of transmission,” Disease Control Department chief Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai said at a news conference. 

Suwannachai said the women have “zero” chance of transmitting the disease, adding that dead virus cells that can stay in the body for three months. 

“The likelihood of local transmission is very low,” Suwannachai said. “We have to examine how she got it.”

Both women returned to Thailand from the UAE in June. They went through the 14-day state quarantine and were allowed home upon completion. 

The Chaiyaphum woman was found with COVID-19 when she tried to get a health certificate at hospital for flying overseas on Aug. 18, and the Loei woman tested positive on Tuesday after trying to get the same certificate.

The Loei woman is currently hospitalized, though the Chaiyaphum resident was allowed to return home. Loei woman has two sons who go to school in Loei, neither of whom have been reported to come into the hospital for tests. 

Yong Poovorawan, a virology expert from Chulalongkorn University, said that it is possible to find viruses in the body after 14 days, but in very small amounts that put the risk of transmission at “a very low” level.

Government pandemic center consultant Udom Kachintorn also said in an interview Thursday that these positives do not signal a second wave. 

Thailand has not reported any local infection for nearly 3 months, though the government urged the public to remain vigilant of an outbreak that may break out again in the future. 

According to the American Centers for Disease Control, an asymptomatic person who tested positive should only be in contact with others after 10 days have passed since the last positive viral test.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control also said recovered COVID-19 patients who test positive again aren’t infectious, since the tests were merely detecting expired virus material.

Most people who contracted the coronavirus tend to have mild illness and are able to recover in their home, the American CDC said.