Villagers and businessmen in Rayong are furious at the inability of the government to alert them about the activities of an Egyptian coronavirus-infected soldier who violated the laws of self-quarantine to travel to a mall during a Thailand stopover.
Ms Nalinee went with her 11-year-old friend. They were among over 400 people who visited Saturday’s Passione Shopping Spot, the same day a party of Egyptians were in the store, one of whom later tested positive for the disease.
Like several other unlucky citizens who went to the supermarket that day, Ms Nalinee now has to go through a 14-day self-quarantine and that ensures she won’t be able to receive the money she had hoped to invest on overtime.
Her son no longer has to go to kindergarten, as 127 schools throughout the province were forced to shut on Tuesday to reduce the possibility of transmitting the infection.
The Ministry of Public Health sent three Mobile Biosafety Units to do Covid-19 nasal swab testing. Such mobile units will be stationed in front of the Passione Shopping Destination, a shopping mall in the center of the province of Rayong to enable local citizens to be checked for 14 days.
Ms Nalinee was among 394 people summoned by the Ministry of Public Health to be immediately tested on Tuesday because she had used Thai Chana, a government-developed location tracking app to monitor the spread of the virus.
Thousands of people were queuing up for nasal swab examination. Many seemed angrier than scared to contract the illness. The angry locals included Jeerapong Wongsrikeaw, a 42-year-old factory worker who went with his mother and daughter to get checked. Mr Jeerapong said local people feared that at night the Egyptian soldiers could have roamed around freely.
Rayong province was damaged by a report from an infected Egyptian who broke quarantine instructions to stay in his hotel and sneaked out last week for a visit to the mall. Both 127 schools in the province were forced to shut on Monday and workers were told to go into a 14-day quarantine at the D Varee Diva Central Hotel, where the team of 31 officials lodged, as well as others who visited the shopping centre.
The ramifications of the incident were immediate as hotels found tourists canceling trips scheduled for long weekends to come. People went into lockout mode. A vendor at the Passione Shopping Destination told the Bangkok Post that the worst possible moment has arrived for the new Covid-19 event.
Deputy Minister of Public Health Sathit Pitutecha led a team of officials on a fact-finding trip to the region. Initial inquiries found that 27 of the 31 Egyptian officials had toured the store, one of them being the soldier who ultimately screened Covid-19 for positive.
The Ministry of Public Health also noticed four other officials heading to the Central department store while at the same moment the government claimed 1,000 customers were in the center. Moreover, taxi drivers and workers have been screened and put into 14-day quarantine at all locations visited by the Egyptian delegation.
The ministry stresses that these officials did not go out at night and spent most of their time in their rooms at the D Varee Diva Central Rayong Hotel’s second floor where they stayed. Inquiries also suggest that the suspected soldier was carrying a face mask while in the hotel and was not communicating to anybody except his parents.
Nonetheless, these officials could not want to be checked and officials needed to persuade the Egyptian embassy to comply and get the job completed.