Government Confirms That Indian Coronavirus Variant Arrived in Thailand

The Indian coronavirus variant has been detected in Thailand, health officials confirmed yesterday.

A Thai woman and her young son, who arrived from Pakistan, contracted the Indian variant of COVID-19. The result led authorities to consider extending the ban on international arrivals to other countries besides India.

Apisamai Srirangson, the assistant spokeswoman for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), gave more details on the situation on Monday.

Dr. Apisamai said the woman and her three children aged three, six, and eight came to Thailand from Pakistan through Dubai on April 24. After their arrival, they were all transferred to a state-arranged quarantine facility, and the first tests found that the mother and her youngest son had tested positive.

Subsequently, a whole-genome sequencing test was conducted at the Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.

On Sunday, the test results revealed that the virus detected in them was the Indian variant, named B.1.617.1. “These were the first detections of the Indian variant in the country,” Dr. Apisamai said.

India first reported variant B.1.617.1 in October.

It then spread to other countries on the subcontinent, including Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. The variant was later detected in Southeast Asia, specifically in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

“There is concern about this variant and about the possibility that it could mutate in Thailand,” Dr. Apisamai added.

Thailand has restricted foreign arrivals from India since early May over concerns about the variant. The Thai embassy in India does not issue certificates of entry (COE) to any non-Thai citizen, meaning that they are not authorized to travel to the kingdom.

“There is a possibility of delaying COEs in other countries,” she added.

On Monday afternoon, authorities also ordered to close the borders to travelers arriving from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said Thai embassies in the three countries of the Indian subcontinent also stopped issuing entry certificates for non-Thai citizens.

The measure will be in effect from May 10 until further notice.

However, Thai citizens can still request the necessary documentation to return to Thailand during the pandemic, he said.