BANGKOK, July 29 (Xinhua) -- The Royal Thai Army said on Wednesday it has decided to put on hold the participation of Thai soldiers in overseas military training after nine soldiers who returned from Hawaii to Thailand tested positive for COVID-19.
"Out of all 151 soldiers, nine soldiers tested positive to COVID-19 after they took part in the joint exercise with the United States force code named Lightning Forge 2020, since July 1," said Gen. Nattapon Srisawat, director of the Thai Army's anti-COVID-19 unit.
"These soldiers returned to Thailand on July 22 and were immediately sent to state quarantine. More than 10 fell ill; later nine were confirmed to have contracted the virus."
Nattapon also said that the weapons used in the joint training were disinfected and sent to armories.
Soldiers who are being quarantined are healthy and will undergo repeat swab tests on Aug. 2 to ensure they are free of COVID-19 at the end of the 14-day quarantine, he said.
Thailand's Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has repeatedly called on Thais living in the United States to stay vigilant, as the latter still tops the world's number of COVID-19 cases.
On Wednesday, Thailand discovered another new COVID-19 case in state quarantine.
The new case was one out of the nine soldiers who contracted the virus in the military exercise.
The Thai soldiers while in Hawaii, shared drinking glasses with their fellow soldiers, while they were staying in the same tent during their training course, said Nattapon.
During the second stage of the training course, the Thai and American troops were in close contact and slept together in the same tents, although none of them fell sick during the training.
Between July 19 and 21, the Thai troops were taken shopping at an army surplus store in the compound of the training camp. Upon arrival at the Suvarnabhumi international airport, 11 Thai soldiers were found sick and classified as PUIs (patients under investigation).
The cumulative infections in Thailand to date are 3,298. Of those, 2,444 were locally acquired infections and 361 were in state quarantine.
Thailand's death toll remains at 58 while 3,111 people have recovered. Enditem