'I feel dazed', says Singaporean restaurant owner infected with coronavirus in Thailand

The owner of Hawaiian restaurant Ohana Poke in Bangkok tested positive for the coronavirus and was transferred to a government quarantine hospital.
The owner of Hawaiian restaurant Ohana Poke in Bangkok tested positive for the coronavirus and was transferred to a government quarantine hospital.PHOTO: OHANA POKE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - A 36-year-old restaurant owner in Bangkok has become the first Singaporean to be diagnosed with Covid-19 in Thailand, the health authorities there confirmed on Wednesday (March 11).

The man, who wants to be known only as Jay, owns Hawaiian restaurant Ohana Poke in the Thai capital and has been keeping his staff, patrons and loved ones updated via his restaurant’s Facebook page. 

He tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, and was among six new cases confirmed by the Thai Health Ministry on Wednesday.

He said in a Facebook post: “I’m alone in a foreign country fighting a virus the world has never seen. It weighs heavy on my (conscience) for causing worry and concern to those around me and for that I am terribly sorry. 

“I cannot apologise enough and I would wish that I can take that pain and concern from all of those who have been affected by me. For now I will need to rest and recover so that I can tell my family how much I love them in person once again.”

Being not very proficient in Thai, and having been through “an extremely long day of uncertainty” from “lack of sleep and feeling dazed from the medication and fever”, Jay also admitted that it had been “taxing”.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Jay put up two posts describing his experience and to allay the concerns of those whom he may have had contact with. 

He described his movements since Friday in the posts, and said he has spoken to Thai government officials to facilitate contact tracing. “I will leave it in their good hands,” he said.

Upon testing positive for the virus, Jay said he “immediately” informed the manager to close the shop and that all restaurant staff have since been sent home for 14 days of self-isolation by a doctor.

 
 
 

“As of posting, none of my staff has any symptoms. No fever, no sore throat, no nothing. I last met them on 6 March 2020. And it has been 5 days since they last met me,” he said.

He noted that he decided to make the posts “because it’s the right thing to do” and the most “effective” way of answering the many messages he had been bombarded with throughout the day.

“I’m also very sorry we couldn’t get a more coordinated message out because it has been an extremely long day trying to understand and coordinate everything. If it is required, I will post further updates in an honest and open fashion,” he said.

Jay first began suffering chills and a body ache on Sunday morning before developing a fever on Monday. He said he mostly stayed home from Sunday and did not use public transport, only leaving his home to buy a thermometer and food.

He last went to his restaurant last Friday and stayed there for two hours, he noted.

Jay also found it necessary to upload a photo of his passport and boarding pass for his flight to Bangkok on Facebook, after “rumours” that he had been to South Korea or that he was Korean began circulating.

Some netizens also speculated that he and his wife had just returned to Bangkok from Italy. He said he is unmarried and has been in Bangkok since Feb 2, and so most likely caught the infection in the country.

The Thai health ministry said he is being treated at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute in Nonthaburi province, which is just outside Bangkok. 

The Straits Times has contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Jay for more information.