Thailand Reports First COVID-19 Fatality in 49 Days

A health worker screens a foreign tourist arriving on the Special Tourist Visa scheme at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Oct. 26, 2020.
A health worker screens a foreign tourist arriving on the Special Tourist Visa scheme at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Oct. 26, 2020.

BANGKOK — The government’s response center to the coronavirus reported a new virus fatality on Friday, bringing the total death toll to 60, as eight more people were found infected.

The victim was a 66-year-old man who had diabetes and hypertension, the center said. He returned from the United Kingdom on Oct. 19 and stayed at a state quarantine facility in Chonburi province before testing positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 22, according to the crisis center.

The patient died at a hospital on Thursday. It was the first death associated with the coronavirus in 49 days. The last fatality in the country was reported on Sept. 18.

Eight new cases were also discovered inside state quarantine. They include an individual returning from Switzerland, India, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and three from Myanmar.

As of Friday, 119 infected patients are being treated at hospitals, while 3,639 patients have recovered. The country’s cumulative case of infection now stands at 3,818.

Mandatory Quarantine Days May be Cut

On Thursday, the Ministry of Public Health approved the proposal to shorten quarantine from 14 to 10 days for foreign tourists visiting the country under the Special Tourist Visa program, though the final decision is yet to be made by the government’s response center.

Health ministry’s sec-gen Kiatiphum Wongrajit said the proposal would only apply to visitors from certain “low risk” countries and territories, which include the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

“According to the research, there’s not much difference between 14 and 10-day quarantine. The risk is almost the same under appropriate management,” Kiatiphum said. “Of one million visitors, the chance of finding infections after the 10-day quarantine is 1.5 people, compared with 0.3 under the 14-day quarantine.”

Kiatiphum said the tourists would be tracked with an application upon leaving the quarantine and they may only visit certain provinces such as Chonburi and Buriram. 

The selected 10 provinces have the adequate capability to handle possible outbreak and locals are in favor of foreign tourists, he said.