Health Minister Anutin Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Trip Abroad

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul have been diagnosed with Covid-19 upon returning from meetings in France and Switzerland.

Mr. Anutin returned from abroad Sunday after attending the 170th General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in Paris on June 20-2. During the meeting, he reaffirmed Thailand’s willingness to host the 2028 Specialized Expo in Phuket.

Following the appointment in France, the minister traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, for the 50th meeting of the UNAIDS Program Coordinating Board (PCB) from June 21-24.

Mr. Anutin and a group of high-level officials from the health and foreign affairs ministries returned to Thailand on Sunday.

According to the permanent secretary for health Kiattiphum Wongrajit, the health minister experienced muscle aches and a sore throat upon arrival. Mr. Anutin then underwent an antigen test and tested positive for Covid-19.

Dr. Kiattiphum said that the deputy prime minister would be isolated for a week for treatment, as advised by doctors.

Mr. Anutin was unable to attend the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday as he requested a leave of absence due to his diagnosis. However, the permanent health secretary insisted that the minister’s infection would not impact the government’s policy of reopening the country to more foreign visitors.

The prime minister believed he had contracted the virus during the trip as he met many people who did not wear face masks. According to Dr. Kiattiphum, Mr. Anutin also had to remove his face mask to deliver speeches and speak at meetings he chaired.

The health minister was the first Thai to receive a Covid-19 vaccine when the national vaccination program rolled out on February 29, 2021, at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province.

Mr. Anutin’s first dose was a Sinovac shot. He has been jabbed six times since then, with two Sinovac shots, two Astra-Zeneca doses, and a Pfizer vaccine.

Also, the minister’s official Facebook page posted a photo showing the deputy prime minister receiving a sixth dose, known to be a Pfizer jab, on June 13.

Mr. Anutin has not been the only cabinet member to test positive for Covid-19 in June. Earlier this month, Deputy public health minister Sathit Pitutecha said he had caught the virus but clarified that his condition was not severe and he would continue working from home for the next seven days.