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Thailand’s Covid-19 Stats Again Doubted After Thai, Japanese Man Test Positive in Tokyo

Tokyo Fire Department workers gather near an arriving repatriation flight in Japan.
Tokyo Fire Department workers gather near an arriving repatriation flight in Japan.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said there has been no official confirmation that a Thai man returning to Japan tested positive for the coronavirus after leaving Bangkok.

Anutin was referring to reports that a 24-year-old Thai construction worker and a 47-year-old Japanese national both positive after returning to Japan from Thailand.

The minister did not address the case of the Japanese man, but said Japan uses different testing methods than Thailand and he was waiting for an official report from his Japanese counterpart about the Thai worker.

Japan uses the new chemiluminescent enzyme immunoassay quick-testing method, which detects Covid-19 infections from saliva samples but has not been certified by the World Health Organization. Thailand uses the more-thorough RT PCR method to detect the virus.

The Chiang Rai native who lives in Japan had come back to Thailand on July 7 and spent his first 14 days in state quarantine. While there, he tested negative twice for Covid-19 and returned to the North for the military draft in August. He then left Thailand for Japan on Aug. 1.

This is not the first time Thailand’s official statistics have been brought into question…

While in quarantine in Japan, health authorities there said he tested positive for Covid-19.

Thailand officially claims to have had no local spread of the coronavirus 80 days.

The Department of Disease Control has tested the construction worker’s mother, three friends and 28 other low-risk contacts and all were found virus-free. Anutin said he was waiting for Thai health officials’ final report on their interview of the man’s family in Chiang Rai.

The DDC also said it has done contact tracing on the Japanese man.

This is not the first time Thailand’s official statistics have been brought into question. In June, migrant workers held in Thai immigration detention centers fell ill with Covid-19 after being deported back to Myanmar. Thai officials disputed the Burmese test regime in that case, as well.

But Thailand is not alone is keeping dodgy books. Taiwan, which claim to have had no local spread of the virus in 119 days, never explained how a Thai worker returning from Taipei tested positive for Covid-19 in state quarantine after returning to Thailand.