BANGKOK — No coronavirus case was found among lawmakers who had attended the same meeting at Parliament with an infected gambler from Rayong, officials said Monday.
The Parliament was put on alert after it was discovered that the man attended a hearing on online gambling on Dec. 21.
Jakkaphon Tangsuthitham, deputy chairman of the House’s subcommittee on online gambling prevention, said all of the attendees tested negative and were placed under self-isolation.
“It has been confirmed that the man caught the virus after the meeting,” Jakkaphon, who is also an MP for Pheu Thai Party, said on phone Monday. “He contracted the virus from aunt in Rayong. All of the attendees were cleared of infection, but we will not hold any meetings until the outbreak situation has settled down.”
The gambler was also reportedly part of an MP’s working group but has since been struck off the list following the embarrassing revelation that he was a son of an illegal casino owner, whose operation was reportedly responsible for a large cluster of coronavirus outbreak in the eastern region.
The gambler tested positive on Dec. 25 and is currently being treated at a hospital, according to health officials.
Deputy house speaker Suchart Tancharoen told reporters last week that he appointed the man, who remains unnamed, as his aide before he was aware of his background. Suchart said the man was fired in the wake of the scandal.
Jakkaphon, the deputy chairman of the subcommittee on gambling, maintained that the man was merely invited to give his knowledge about gambling rings, and that he was not part of the subcommittee itself.
“I didn’t know him before,” Jakkaphon said. “He’s not on the name list. He’s only a follower of a person invited by the subcommittee to give testimony. Our work is about gambling, so it’s inevitable that those in the industry may be invited.”
The lawmaker said the subcommittee will be more careful about inviting guests at the moment, given that the country’s rate of infection is still rocketing.
“We didn’t think it through that he might have been to crowded places,” Jakkaphon said.
Sukit Atthopakorn, adviser to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, said the Parliament will also deliberate on whether to resume its session amid the ongoing outbreak, as several parliamentarians have expressed their concern for risk of infection if meetings are to be held.
One of the concerned lawmakers is Phalang Pracharath MP Sira Jenjaka, who said that he worried for the wellbeing of his colleagues.
“House Speaker Chuan must consider who will be responsible if there’s a transmission of COVID-19 inside the Parliament,” he said. “I’m saying that not because I’m afraid of death or just being lazy, but I heard from my fellow MPs, staffers, and members of the press that they’re all concerned about the virus.”
The country logged 745 new cases of infection on Monday – a record number – prompting the government to urge the public to consider working from home.