Health officials disinfect Chiangklom Wittaya School in Loei on Aug. 20, 2020.

BANGKOK — Health officials announced Thursday night they are looking for two dozen people who had been in close contact with a Loei woman who tested positive for the coronavirus outside of state quarantine.

The 35-year-old woman from Loei is currently in treatment at Ramathibodi Hospital. She had close contact with 24 people both in Loei and Bangkok, though she poses a low risk of transmitting the disease, the government pandemic center said. 

“Everything is proceeding normally. There is no risk concerning locations,” spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin said. “We can’t even really call her a patient, as she’s not ill.” 

Officials had said that the woman, one of two who tested positive for the virus after completing state quarantine upon return from the UAE, possibly tested positive due to dead virus cells in her body.

“She has no symptoms. But to be completely cautious, we are keeping her here at the hospital as a precaution,” Ramathibodi hospital director Surasak Leelaudomlipi said. “We want society to feel at ease that we are checking even the remnants of viruses. We are quite confident these remnants will not cause transmission.”

Walairat Chaiyafu, director of the bureau of epidemiology at the Department of Disease Control, said officials are tracking down those 24 people to test for the virus. 

The woman returned to Thailand on June 24 and was in state quarantine until July 9. She tested negative twice during quarantine, on June 25 and July 5. She then returned to her home in Loei and was in close contact with a total of five friends and family, and six more when she visited a friend who had just given birth at Pak Chom Hospital.

She also visited a restaurant with friends in Loei, but Walairat said the woman does not remember the restaurant’s name or the date – it was either Aug. 12 or 13.

The woman’s Loei family and friends have had the samples collected, Walairat said.

Chiangklom Wittaya School in Loei, where the woman’s two sons attended, disinfected its campus ground earlier today. The boys did not attend school Thursday.

The woman then prepared to travel back to work in Dubai and came back to Bangkok to obtain a health certificate. She traveled to Bangkok on Sunday with her parents and two friends and stayed with them at Buddy Hotel in Din Daeng area, where at the time 104 other people were staying. 

Officials have contacted the two hotel maids for the tests.

“We do not count these 104 people to be at-risk yet since they did not have close contact. But if they are concerned, they can come in for a test,” Walairat said.

On Tuesday, the woman went to Ramathibodi Hospital for a COVID-19 test, interacting with one taxi driver and five hospital staff in the process. Her test came back positive. Walairat says officials are tracking down the taxi driver, who is one of the 24 total people who had been in close contact with the woman. 

The woman tested positive again both on Wednesday and Thursday. 

A Ramathibodi Hospital doctor said he believed the woman had been infected out of the country.

“She had been infected possibly three months ago, not in Bangkok since she was here for such a short window of time. We are confident that the likelihood of her transmitting the infection is very low.” 

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