Thailand races to contact trace as coronavirus reappears

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BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand is racing ahead with contact tracing after detecting its first domestic coronavirus infection in over three months, health officials said on Friday, with tests conducted on nearly 200 people with possible exposure to the new case.

Thailand reported its first non-imported case in after over 100 days on Thursday, after a prisoner a day earlier had tested positive for the coronavirus during a mandatory test for new inmates.

“We traced his movement back two weeks before he had symptoms on Aug. 29,” Sopon Iamsirithaworn, director of Bureau of General Communicable Diseases, told a news conference.

The man, 37, had worked as a nightclub DJ at three different venues in the capital Bangkok during the past two weeks, officials said, before he was jailed for a drugs-related offence.

So far, 194 people considered at risk, including family members, inmates and people at the court where he had appeared have tested negative, Sopon said, adding that authorities were using a government smartphone application to contact those who had checked-in at those venues.

All of the country’s new cases in the last three months have been found in quarantine in individuals who were returning from overseas.

Thailand has reported a relatively low 3,431 cases and 58 COVID-19 deaths overall, with 96 patients currently being treated in hospital. That compares with more than 232,000 and 187,000 infections in the Philippines and Indonesia respectively.

Thai authorities advised those concerned about exposure to the new case to seek testing and to quarantine at home.

“If you suspect that you’ve come into contact with this DJ, you can come in for free tests,” senior health official, Ritdej Chareonchai, said.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty