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KHON KAEN – Two people were tested negative for the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, at Khon Kaen’s Srinagarind Hospital after returning from a trip to South Korea with elevated temperatures.

In response to a widely-shared post on social media about two suspected cases of COVID-19 infections at Khon Kaen University (KKU), Srinagarind Hospital today issued an official statement published on the university website.

The statement, signed by acting hospital director Apichat Jiravuttipong, said that a group of 59 students and employees of KKU were examined after returning on February 23 from a six-day trip to South Korea.

Two people were found to have elevated temperatures of over 37.5°. They were tested for the COVID-19 infection but the results came back negative. They are being treated at the hospital. The statement said there “definitely has not been any spread of the virus.”

The other 57 people are being closely monitored and have been instructed to go into self-quarantine for two weeks and check for symptoms every day, the statement said.

Although the tests came back negative, the university administration has adopted a policy that requires anyone returning from a risk area to self-quarantine and will not be allowed at work or in classes until after 14 days.

In a popular closed university Facebook group, some commentators questioned whether the tests of the two patients were sufficiently conclusive as, they argued, the virus had an incubation period of 14 days.

The WHO says on its website that the incubation period for COVID- 19, the time between catching the virus and beginning to show symptoms of the disease, is estimated at 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. Some recent media reports speak of indications that the incubation period could be longer.

According to a country report by the WHO, the total number of Thailand’s confirmed COVID-19 cases stands at 35 as of February 21. Currently, 212 people are being tested or are receiving treatment for respiratory symptoms.

The WHO makes five general recommendations to reduce the risk of transmission of acute respiratory infections, including the virus causing COVID-19. It recommends avoiding contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections, frequent handwashing, and avoiding contact with farm or wild animals. People with symptoms of acute respiratory infections should protect others by maintaining distance, covering coughs and sneezes, and frequently washing hands.

An official statement in Thai by Srinagarind Hospital, signed by acting director Apichat Jiravuttipong was published on the university website this evening.