Written by Montira Narkvichien, Communications Specialist, WHO
Bangkok, Thailand -- Thailand’s long-standing research on coronavirus strains in bats helped it to rapidly ramp up its laboratory and testing capacities and curb the spread of the novel strain that causes COVID-19, experts involved in the effort say.
A night-time curfew and lockdown of much of everyday life helped control the spread of infections, along with the continued closure of Thailand’s borders where the few people allowed to enter are carefully screened and quarantined.
But certainly, a major factor in control efforts was Thailand’s capacity to detect and manage its first cases. Thailand was the first country to confirm a COVID-19 case outside Wuhan: a passenger arriving at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport from Wuhan on 8 January. Routine screening, which was established at the airport in response to the outbreak in China, found that she had a fever.
Ministry of Public Health officials sent the woman to the Government’s Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute. There, she was diagnosed with pneumonia, and a viral infection was suspected.
A sample, taken by swabbing the back of the nose, was analysed by the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases-Health Science Centre, Chulalongkorn University, which also is the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Research and Training on Viral Zoonoses. This laboratory has expertise in coronavirus research, especially in bats.