COVID-19 Outbreak in the Chiang Rai Border Area due to Illegal Immigration to Thailand: A Field Investigation

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Hanusit Muangmor
Panupong Upala
Tawatchai Apidechkul


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a novel serious infectious disease to humankind. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the deaths of many people worldwide  almost a year (the year of 2020). Countries are implementing several public health measures, and some, such as Thailand, have successfully controlled the spread of the disease. However, imported cases are a major threat to a country like Thailand.  

Methods: A field investigation was conducted to identify positive cases and implement control measures for COVID-19 cluster cases reported who illegally entried into Thailand in the Chiang Rai Province, Thailand, between November 28, 2020, and December 5, 2020.  Moreover, public health measures were implemented to control and prevent the disease. Cases of new infections were closely monitored to assess the effectiveness of the implemented control measures for at least two incubation periods (28 days).     

Results: A total of 15 COVID-19 cases (nine cases resided in Chiang Rai Province):  14 women and one man (contacted indexed case) were reported in a clustered outbreak in the Chiang Rai Province from late November to December 5, 2020.  Twelve Thai women  of 14 cases who had returned from working at a hotel in Myanmar tested positive for COVID-19 in late November 2020. A 28-year-old Thai man who was in close contact with one of these women tested positive for COVID-19 on December 2, 2020. Among the 12 women, nine had illegally entered Thailand, while three had legally entered the country and were isolated and treated at the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Central Hospital. The illegal entrants included three from Chiang Rai, three from Chiang Mai, and one each from Pha Yao, Phi Chit, Bangkok, and Rat Cha Buri Provinces. Among the imported cases, about 50.0% were asymptomatic, and the average age was 26.1 years (Min = 21, Max = 26). Five symptomatic patients were admitted to public hospitals and received standard care. Those who had no specific signs or symptoms were under close monitoring and were observed in a hospital. Several public health measures were implemented at all levels in the provinces.  

Conclusion: Illegal crossing border is one of the most significant factors of COVID-19 outbreaks in Thailand. However, immediate responses with effective public health interventions to prevent and control the spread of the disease (contact tracing), including effective communication and strong collaboration among partners, are key factors for success in halting the spread of COVID-19  in Thailand. 


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Muangmor, H., Upala, P., & Apidechkul, T. (2020). COVID-19 Outbreak in the Chiang Rai Border Area due to Illegal Immigration to Thailand: A Field Investigation . Journal of Health Science and Alternative Medicine, 2(3), 22-28. Retrieved from
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