13 Beauty Queens Test Positive for COVID After Pageant

The contest took place in Thailand, where cases and deaths are surging.
July 12, 2021, 9:05am
Thailand beauty pageant finalists
Contestants pose during the Miss Grand Samut Sakhon beauty pageant in Bangkok on June 27, 2021. PHOTO: AFP / MISS GRAND THAILAND

A Bangkok beauty pageant is under intense scrutiny after a cluster of 22 infections was traced to the event last month, with authorities vowing to take legal action as Thailand fights its worst coronavirus wave since the pandemic started.

Authorities said that 13 contestants and nine others associated with the “Miss Grand Samut Sakhon” pageant had tested positive for the virus, the Bangkok Post reported. The winner, Thai beauty queen Pornchanok Srikaeo, was reportedly among those who contracted the virus.

Police accused the contestants and staff of not properly observing public health rules surrounding the event that had received approval to go ahead but under stringent conditions.

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Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy commissioner Piya Tawichai said charges could be brought. “All those responsible will face legal action,” he was quoted as saying.

Photos showed contestants in gowns and not wearing masks or social distancing. One beauty pageant participant said that large fines for pulling out of the contest meant she felt compelled to take part, the Nation reported. Organizers have not yet issued any official response or statement. VICE World News has sent a request for comment.

Thailand is grappling with its most overwhelming wave of the virus to date after going through a period of relative stability last year, when cases and deaths were sometimes in the single or double digits. On Monday, however, there were more than 8,000 infections and 80 deaths. 

This week, the capital Bangkok and nine provinces returned to semi-lockdown, with a nightly curfew, a ban on gatherings of more than five people, and curbs on non-essential travel. The surge is taking place even as Thailand tries to kick start its tourism sector with a special plan for vaccinated visitors in one island.

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