Lumpinee Stadium at the centre of coronavirus cluster in Thailand
The recent outbreak of the new coronavirus, or Covid-19, has sent shockwaves around the combat sports scene world. The majority of events have been cancelled or postponed and Lumpinee Stadium has provided a perfect case study of why these measures were necessary.
A recent outbreak can be traced back to a big event at the stadium on March 6th. Among the people to have been infected that night were ring announcer and local celebrity Matthew Deane.
On March 13th he took to Instagram to announced he had tested positive for the virus:
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ไม่ได้ล้อเล่นครับ เรื่องจริงครับผมใครที่สัมผัสผมในช่วงสามสี่วันที่ผ่านมาเฝ้าดูอาการนะครับ เดี๋ยวจะแจ้งรายละเอียดเพิ่มเติมหลังจากนี้ This is NOT a joke, for those that have been in close contact with me the last few days please take precautions I have the Covid -19 virus #covid19
Dean’s announcement prompted more attendees to get tested and it was found that the stadium chief and Army welfare chief Maj-General Rachit Arunrangsri had also contracted the virus. This was reported by the Royal Thai Army’s special adviser, General Nattaphan Srisawat, who stated the procedures carried out since the positive test,
“Thirty-six close contacts who returned home are now in self-quarantine for 14 days, including the driver. We believe that we can control the situation.”
Maj-General Rachit also ordered an immediate closure of the stadium and called in a special unit to thoroughly clean the venue.
Another positive test from a visitor to the stadium that night came from Mr Kitti Paopiamsap the Chairman of the Provincial Administration Office of Chacheongsao province and, again, strong measures were put in place to protect anyone that had possibly come into contact with him.
With the news regarding the positive tests a decision was made to close the doors of Lumpinee Stadium until further notice. Rajadamnern Stadium, which had held its last show on March 12th, also announced it would close for a minimum of 14 days.
A list of 21 people who tested positive following the event on March 6th has been circulated on social media. Several of the names on that list are of well known gamblers who will bet throughout the fights at close quarters and exchange large sums of money.
We don’t know exactly how many people contracted coronavirus on March 6th. But the virus seems to have spread through different sections of the stadium from the Thai gamblers, who are packed in tightly together, to the announcers and dignitaries seated by the ring.
There have also been anecdotal reports of people contracting coronavirus after the show at Rajadamnern Stadium on March 5th. The Thai government recently announced it was considering a ban on any gatherings of over 50 people and this cluster of infections demonstrates why these sort of social distancing measures are necessary.