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Prominent Virologist Throws Water on Gov’t Theory Footballer Infected in Europe in Aug.

Unconfirmed tweet says Ismatullaev has been retested with negative result

Uzbekistan international Akbar Ismatullaev, right.
Uzbekistan international Akbar Ismatullaev, right.

A veteran virologist disputed Public Health Ministry suggestions that a Uzbek footballer who tested positive for the coronavirus brought it from Europe a month ago even as an unconfirmed report emerged of him retesting negative.

Dr. Yong Poovorawan, chief of the Center of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, wrote on his Facebook page Saturday that the incubation period for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, was 14 days in 95 percent of infected people.

Only in very rare cases – less than 1 percent of subjects – as the incubation been 21 days or longer, he said. The 14-day quarantine complies with the international standards, he added.

At a Friday evening news conference, Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the ministry’s Medical Science Department, put forth the laughable suggestion that Buriram United midfielder Akbar Ismatullaev, who arrived in Thailand on Aug. 13 and had three times tested negative for the virus before his trip and while in 14-day quarantine, had been infected back home and simply never developed enough virus load to test positive.

It now seems that Friday’s test might have been a false negative.

Freelance Thai football journalist Paul Murphy tweeted Saturday that Ismatullaev had been retested and the result was negative. The team nor the ministry have confirmed the report.

Yong threw water on Opas’ theory – likely meant to preserve Thailand’s false image as being Covid-free – saying that it was likely he contracted the virus – if he actually did – inside Thailand.

The virologist noted that Ismatullaev had been quarantined for 14 days as required by the Ministry of Public Health and, afterwards, mainly stayed with three close friends who have tested negative for the virus.

Meanwhile, the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration on Saturday reported that four other Covid-19 patients were confirmed and in quarantine, raising the country’s total cases to 3,466.