COVID-19: Thailand steps up contact tracing after footballer tests positive

COVID-19: Thailand steps up contact tracing after footballer tests positive

BANGKOK: Thailand is racing ahead with contact tracing after a 29-year-old Buriram United Football Club player from Uzbekistan was announced to have tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday (Sept 11). 

To date, the Department of Disease Control has screened nearly 145 people, including football players and staff from three clubs who were possibly in contact with the infected midfielder.

The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said in a statement today that 47 individuals identified as close contacts, including Buriram United Football Club players and staff, had undergone COVID-19 test.

“A total of 45 of them tested negative while two are pending a re-test,” it said. 

On Friday, the Public Health Ministry’s Medical Science Department director-general, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, confirmed that the Uzbek footballer was COVID-19 positive. 

A total of 1,115 individuals, including referees, players and people involved with the Thai League 1 and 2, were tested on Tuesday (Sept 8), ahead of the resumption of the Thai football season on Saturday (Sept 12), and the Uzbek was the only positive result to come back on Thursday (Sept 10).

Prior to the pre-match test, the football player and his teammates had two friendly matches with Khon Kaen United (Sept 5) and Ratchaburi Football Club (Aug 30).

The CCSA said all football players and staff, as well as trainees and drivers from the two clubs, also underwent COVID-19 test and were awaiting their results.

Meanwhile, Buriram public health officers have traced 367 individuals, including 27 identified under the high-risk group, who had contact with the footballer.

The Uzbek footballer arrived in Thailand on Aug 13 and completed the 14-day quarantine on Aug 27. 

Earlier, the Head of Chulalongkorn University’s Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology Dr Yong Puworawan said the virus incubation period for the footballer could have been longer than 14 days and it was unlikely the infection was locally transmitted. 

Thailand has so far reported 3,473 COVID-19 cases, with 58 fatalities.